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MI NO first saw light in Montepulciano, a town 
of Tuscany, on the 4th day of October, 1542. 
Cardinal Roberto Pucci, of Florence, gave him 
those names at " the lustral font." The first, 
Roberto, clave to him all his life, in honour of 
the sponsor ; the second name, Francesco, given 
in consideration of the saint adored on that day, 
St. Francis of Assisi, was to remind him of the 
seraphic patriarch whom he should invoke as 
his guardian saint, and whose virtues he might 
aspire to imitate ; and as for the third name, 
Romulo, it might suggest and quicken aspira 
tions after some Roman dignity. His father, 
Vincenzo Bellarmino, and his mother, Cintia 
Cervini, were of high families ; and his maternal 
uncle, Marcello Cervini, sat on the apostolic 
throne as Marcellus II. 


Wealth and honours attended at his birth, 
bidding for eulogies on such illustrious infancy. 
" Educated," to borrow the words of his biogra 
pher, Fuligatto, " in the bosom of most excellent 
parents, from being a diminutive infant, he had 
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scarcely reached years of an enlightened discre 
tion when he gave indications of his future 
greatness and incomparable probity. Indeed, 
some judged that he had found, in the hands of 
God, Creator of human minds, a good soul, a 
soul in which Adam himself would not have 
sinned, as it had formerly been said of St. 

This marvel of unstained purity, according to 
Fuligatto, loved religion in preference to play, 
and acted over again in the nursery the cere 
monies of the Church. A stool served him 
instead of altar, whereat he mimicked mass. 
On the seat of a high-backed bench, just peep 
ing over the top, and wearing something white, 
he preached, in his way, about the sufferings of 
Christ, much to the delight of his mother, who, 
like many others, taught her little Robert to 
play at religion when he was six or seven years 
old, and left him to play out the game with 
greater art at sixty or seventy. 

She spared no pains, however, to bring him 
up according to the straitest sect of her religion, 
suffering him only to associate with elder boys, 
and they of his own rank ; and, after he had 
risen to eminence, his elder sister Camilla 
stated that when only nine or ten years old he 
gave up childish sports, and was especially care 
ful never to walk too quick. Public fame in* 
Montepulciano retained the memory of that edi 
fying gravity ; and, in due time, many of the 


old people deponed as much on oath. As he 
grew bigger, the same propensity to imitate 
Priests continued. It is related that when 
rambling in the country, he was wont to amuse 
himself with catching birds, playing on the 
fiddle, and preaching from the trunk of a tree. 
Being even then an ardent orator, he gathered 

But, amidst all this childishness, young Robert 
had higher thoughts : perhaps observing that 
the path to eminence could only be trodden by 
the diligent, and certainly impelled by a strong 
desire after knowledge, he became a diligent 
student, and not only rose early for prayers, as 
required to do, but often stole from his bed at 
night, and by help of a flint and steel struck 
light, lit his fire, and outran the morning in 
pursuit of learning. But that pursuit must have 
been retarded by the observance of a round of 
ceremonial festivities, fastings, hours, litanies, 
rosaries, and processions. As nephew of a Pope, 
godson of a Cardinal, related to some of the 
highest families in Tuscany, possessing a vigorous 
mind, and having every advantage of education 
at command, nothing less than a veto of Divine 
Providence could have driven him back into 
obscurity. But it pleased God to permit the 
contrary. We shall attend this child in his 
advance to almost the highest station that the 
Church of Rome could give, and find him fore 
most in battle with the Reformation. 

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Partaking of that admiration of classic models 
which yet survived the days of Medicean glory in 
Florence, he found much delight in their study. 
From Virgil, especially, in due time, he drew a 
poetic inspiration, while Horace and the Satirists 
lent him their charms of number. He could 
early write Italian odes with equal facility and 
success, and after a few years some of his Latin 
verses obtained celebrity. The hymn in the 
Roman Breviary, in honour of Mary Magdalene, 
beginning with " Pater superni luminis," inserted 
there by command of Clement VIII., was from 
his pen. That the spur of ambition urged him, 
even in the gay morning of childhood, is un 
doubted. He used to tell a little anecdote of 
himself, which says as much. At church one 
day, with his mother, during sermon, and rather 
amused than edified, he diverted her attention 
by repeating, again and again, and loud enough 
to be heard by many, " Signora, do you not see 
that I am going to be made a Bishop and a 
Cardinal?" "Hush," said Cynthia, "hush, 
hush ! " " Nay, lady," he shouted, pointing 
at the pictures of illustrious Doctors that adorned 
the building, " I shall be like one of them, some 
day." Jesuits have imagined that the boy 


In order to give him an education correspond 
ent to the station of his family, his father 


determined to send him to Padua, whither also 
a cousin, Ricciardo Bellarmino, was about to 
proceed ; and as no Tuscan subject might go 
out of the state for education, without licence of 
the Duke, such a licence was obtained from 
Cosimo I. How to find a suitable companion 
and protector, who might first accompany him 
into the Venetian territory, and then take some 
oversight of him when at college, was a question 
that cost some anxiety ; and, at length, it was 
resolved to confide that service to a member of 
the Society of Jesus. 

The favourable disposition towards the Society 
that led to this choice was not accompanied 
with sufficient foresight in the father. The 
mother was fascinated with admiration of the 
new fraternity. The son, too, over whom Cynthia 
swayed the influence of a fond parent, imper- 
^eptibly drank in the spirit of asceticism and of 
romance that the Jesuits were diffusing through 
out Italy ; and even while the family were looking 
around them for a Jesuit companion, and the 
house was full of preparation for his departure 
to Padua, and the Ducal passport was to invest 
the journey with an air of official privilege, little 
Robert, shut up in his chamber, meditated on 
futurity, and his imagination already pictured 
an ideal of perfection. 

Cynthia had instructed him in the very reli 
gion of Jesuitism, and her own example gave a 
vast emphasis to her instructions. Often had 


the household heard the sound of a whip ; and 
Camilla, an elder sister, had told him how she 
had been in their mother s chamber, unperceived, 
and seen her lay her shoulders bare, and lash 
them fearfully, until reverence for the mother 
alone restrained the child from rushing out of 
her hiding-place, and ending the penance by 
snatching away the knotted scourge. Already 
he had written acrostics on VIRGINITY, aud 
composed stanzas in dispraise of the world. 
And now he fancied that, in Padua, he might 
find some outlet from the world. The words of 
a Prophet, which he had often heard in chant, 
resounded again within him in the silence of his 
chamber : " that I had wings like a dove ! then 
would I fly away, and be at rest." On this his 
mind lingered. In this his heart became entangled 
" and be at rest" Then, holding colloquy with 
himself, it seemed as if voices answered again from 
the depth of his bosom. Nay, it seemed as if an 
angel spake, advising renunciation of the world, 
provoking courage to abandon its endearments, 
and impelling him to fling away its honours. 

In this frame of mind he left Montepulciano, 
and came to Padua ; not roused from the dream 
by the conversation of his travelling-companion 
and master, the Jesuit Sgariglia. One object 
henceforth absorbed his thoughts. He sought 
some religious order, within whose inclosure he 
might delight himself in the fragrance of disci 
pline, contemplate models of perfection, plunge 


into the depths of science, lay hold on what is 
most excellent, and learn to reject all that is 
mean and vile. And he was led to believe that 
such a home for his weary soul would be found 
in the Society of Jesus. Sgariglia directed 
his literary pursuits, and guided his aspirations 
towards the summit of repose. His cousin 
Ricciardo caught the flame, which now en 
wrapped them both ; and, consumed with desire 
after this heaven upon earth, they communicated 
intelligence of the passion to their fathers? 
No. That would have been consulting with 
flesh and blood. Being now too spiritual to 
condescend so low, they sent up their prayer 
for acceptance to Diego Laynez, General of the 
Jesuits at Rome, beseeching him to admit them 
into the army of Jesus Christ. 

An answer to their letter came without delay. 
Laynez offered them welcome ; but, that Robert 
might gain his object by the gentlest way, (ut 
qui vellet Robertum id quum mollissimd via conse- 
qui,) directed them to ask leave of their fathers. 

By this time Robert was about seventeen years 
of age ; and when the report of his attachment 
to Jesuitism reached his father, the good man 
was astounded at intelligence which he might 
reasonably have expected, and began to bemoan 
the frustration of those hopes that he had set on 
the most promising of his children, having counted 
on him, chiefly, for a repair of the fortunes of 
the family, now considerably reduced. Both the 


young cousins were in secret correspondence 
with the General of the Jesuits, their fathers 
being kept in utter ignorance. Vincenzo first, 
observing that his son Robert was frequently in 
private conversation with his cousin Richard, 
suspected what was going on ; but when the 
request came to permit him to take the Jesuit 
habit, it was bitter indeed. Robert talked high 
about a vocation of the Holy Spirit. The father, 
for fear of the Inquisition, durst not demur to 
the idea that the Holy Spirit of God called 
people into the bosom of Jesuitism ; but he 
wished to see some proof of constancy in the 
lad, some evidence of the Divine will. Robert 
persisted in pleading a heavenly summons to the 
Company, but his father sternly forbade him to 
enter a Jesuit church, or to speak with a Jesuit, 
for twelve months, and required him only to 
attend mass in a church of the Dominicans. 
The General had allowed them to remain at 
home for that period ; and the two mothers 
danced with joy when they found that, by a 
half-measure of the husbands, they and the boys 
had gained all their hearts desire. Cynthia, 
however, found that her husband was firmer 
than he had seemed to be, and therefore gave 
him no rest, day nor night. He resisted. She 
fretted, and fell sick ; and then he relented for 
a little. The residence of Alessandro Cervini, at 
a place called Vivo, served as a temporary school. 
Alessandro himself acted as master ; and, adapt- 


out from all ecclesiastical preferment and civil 
dignities, the good man could Lave no idea that 
this lad would rise to be a Cardinal, but thought 
that he was thenceforth buried in sworn poverty. 


Bellarmine first saw Rome on the 20th of 
September, 1560. His cousin entered the city 
with him, but died four years afterwards in the 
College of Loreto. Going directly to the House 
of Jesus, Robert found a cordial welcome, such 
as might well be given to the representative of a 
Papal family. Enraptured with the attainment 
of the object so long coveted, he almost fancied 
himself numbered with the inhabitants of heaven. 
To his mind Ignacio, the founder, was perfect 
above all that ever had been mortal ; and his 
ambition, while treading on the same ground, 
and living within the walls that had resounded 
with his voice, was to be more like Ignacio than 
like himself. On the very day of entrance he 
implored permission to take the vows of obe 
dience, chastity, and poverty, " a threefold cord, 
not easily to be broken, whereby he might bind 
himself most closely to Christ and to His cross." 

Ten days were spent in " the retreat," medi 
tating, according to custom, on themes pre-^. 
scribed, exercising himself in that submission of 
the thoughts to the guidance of superiors, and 
that abnegation of the will in abandoning the 
thoughts to the direction of another mind, which 
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is at once the weakness and the strength of 
Jesuitism.* There they taught him his soul was 
to be nourished, a hidden life revived, and his 
heart cleansed from all the stains it had con 
tracted since the day of baptism. Then he took 
the habit of the order, and entered on the duties 
of the house. Those duties were to exercise 
him in humility ; and, accordingly, the scion of 
the Bellarmini and Cervini went into the kitchen, 
officiated in the scullery, scoured the kettles, 
washed the dishes, cleansed the tables, and 
chopped wood. In the refectory, too, he served 
up the dinner. In the dormitory he made the 
beds. All over the house he swept the floors. 
Services beneath enumeration he performed, and 
all with exquisite self-satisfaction. " For, as a 
prudent novice, he considered this to be an 
opportunity of the highest value, that the tower 
of perfection might be erected on the foundation 
of humility, "f 


Scarcely had a fortnight passed from his first 
admission, when he was transferred to the 

* For an insight into these exercises, and the discipline 
to which Novices are now subjected, I would refer to 
"The Novitiate: or, the Jesuit in Training," &c. By 
Andrew Steinmetz. London : Smith, Elder, and Co. 

t Let it be understood that quotations, unaccompanied 
hy any foot-note, are translated from the " Vita Robert! 
Bellarmini, &c., a Jacoho Fuligatto Soc. Jesu. Italice 


Roman College, there to study, and recognised 
as a member of Society. So rapid a promotion 
sounds very strangely now ; but it was possible 
in those early days. The year that intervened 
between his leaving Padua and appearing in 
Rome, during which time he had been under the 
observation, and perhaps under the guidance, of 
Jesuits, was counted as a period of probation. 
His vows, it must also be observed, were every 
year taken anew, until his juniority was fairly 
past. Perhaps the rapidity of his admission, 
with dispensation of a regular novitiate, was the 
effect of discernment rather than precipitancy ; 
but Laynez, setting aside the usual guard of 
probation, professed to do so in honour of the 
new comer s uncle, Marcellus II. ; but the pre 
cedent was dangerous, and the fifth General Con 
gregation recorded a law, that no future General 
should be at liberty to dispense thus.* 

Of his obedience, too, there was no question, 
and in that virtue, or quality, whichever it may 
be in the case of a Jesuit, he seemed cordially to 
delight. " I only wish," he said, some time 
after this, to the Secretary, Polanco, " to per- . 
form those things to which a holier and better 
will appoints me ; even if that will should com 
mand me perpetually to teach rhetoric, or to 

primum scripta : a Silvestro Petra Sancta Latino reddita. 
Antwerp!*, M.DC.XXXI." 

* Ristretto della Vita di Roberto Cardinal Bellarmino, 
&c. Dai P. Francesco Marazzani. Bologna. Capo U y 
LI5 B 2 


instruct children of the lowest class in Latin. 
For on this I calculated from the very day when 
I entered into this holy Society ; and on this I 
have resolved, whenever I may leave Rome, and 
on this very day I wish it to be taken as a point 
settled. And that I may never ask anything for 
myself inconsistent with obedience, to change my 
abode, for example, or anything else, I this day 
beseech the General to grant me nothing under 
the idea of showing me a kindness, but only if, 
without regard to any request of mine, the most 
exact rule of obedience would require the very 
thing that I ask. For I would rather be pre 
served from error at the cost of pain, than to 
commit an error, and have what I desire. For 
assuredly I cannot err, so long as I obey." If 
all this had been addressed to God, instead of 
being written to Polanco, it would have been a 
good exposition of the Christian s daily prayer, 
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in 

Under the direction of Pedro Parra, a Spa 
niard, he completed a course of philosophy, 
extending through three years, and won great 
applause. But although his application to study 
was not severe, the ascetic discipline of the place 
broke his health, and for some time the phy 
sicians apprehended symptoms of consumption. 
This induced the superiors, considering also that 
their College at Rome was overcrowded, to send 
him to Florence, where he might breathe in 


the more salubrious atmosphere of his native 
province. ** 


Too scantily supplied with money, Robert set 
out for Florence, and would have had great 
difficulty in finishing the journey, if a Spanish 
gentleman, with whom he met, had not assisted 
him. Weary and pale, he made his appearance 
at the College, more like an applicant for admis 
sion into a hospital, than a master come thither 
to teach. A physician exhausted the resources 
of his art upon the patient with little effect ; but 
after some time he rallied, and application to his 
new duties rather hastened than retarded the 
restoration of health. For the first time he dis 
charged the duties of a teacher. 

And now the juvenile attempts at preaching 
were succeeded by more public and more effective 
efforts. Two sermons in the great church, deli 
vered with much fluency, full of imagination, 
elegant, arid not unlearned, drew the attention 
of the Florentine academicians. Then he appeared 
on feast-days, in the same place, reciting verses 
of his own, said to be remarkable for richness, 
melody, and figure, and charmed the ear of 
numerous assemblages. When opportunity 
occurred, he made himself and the Society 
conspicuous by disputing with the learned con 
cerning the nature of the universe ; and 
although a report of those disquisitions would 
17 B 3 


now minister more amusement than instruc 
tion, we may be sure that they contributed 
much, at that time, to strengthen his influ 
ence over the pupils at the College, and to 
win admiration from the public. In short, he 
became a sort of oracle, and, after having been 
resorted to for the solution of numberless mys 
teries in sciences yet unlearned, he felt himself 
competent to explain, to a company of acade 
micians, "the doctrine of the sphere of the 
world ; questions concerning the situation and 
the magnitude of the heavenly bodies ; concern 
ing their going and coming ; concerning the 
power of the stars ; and particularly concerning 
their distribution under the figures of men 
and beasts." Perhaps it was about the very 
time of the appearance of Bellarmine in Florence 
in quality of astrologer, that Galileo drew his 
first breath in the same city ; and he grew up 
to appear before the lecturer under an accusa 
tion of heresy in regard to the going and 
coming of those corpora sujprema. But more 
of this hereafter. 

After shining in Florence for one year, our 
youthful Doctor was sent to Mondovi, a town in 
the present kingdom of Sardinia, not far north 
ward of the junction of the Apennines and Mari 
time Alps. There he announced an explication 
of certain books, and, especially, "Demosthenes, 
a Greek author," to revive the knowledge of 
Greek. " Robert was altogether ignorant of the 


Greek language ; but what was wanting in learn 
ing, mind and industry supplied." He converted 
the occasion into an opportunity for learning 
Greek, first mastering the rudiments of the 
grammar, which he set forth with magisterial 
confidence, telling his audience that " that foreign 
language was equally useful and difficult, but 
they must begin with the elements, in order to 
proceed more certainly." Advancing from alpha 
bet to nouns thence to verbs thence to con 
struing and on to Isocrates, Demosthenes, or 
any other author, he at length acquired a pretty 
considerable smattering, and passed for master 
without much difficulty. The readers of Bellar- 
mine may be recommended to bear in mind this 
origin of his acquirements in Greek while they 
weigh his criticisms. Although he revived Greek 
among the boys at Mondovi, they will not mistake 
him for a Chrysoloras. 

At home he exemplified obedience and indus 
try. One might have thought that all the bur 
dens of the house rested upon him alone. He 
was last in bed, and first out. Early in the 
mornings he roused the fellows by putting lamps 
upon their tables, performing the function of 
waker-up. At table he officiated as reader. It 
was he who ran for a Priest when any one fell 
sick. At the door he answered as porter. For 
any menial office he was ready. At home he 
gave exhortations without end : abroad, he deli 
vered sermons and grew popular. Everywhere 


quite at home, he would step into a neighbour 
ing convent of Dominicans, take a cheerful glass 
of wine, and away to his appointment. In the 
pulpit, a place where old men trembled, he knew 
no trepidation, and must have admired the sim 
plicity of devout women, who, mistrusting the 
powers of so juvenile an orator, dropped on 
their knees, as he rose in " the superior place," 
and prayed for him to be helped through the 
sermon. Every one wondered at his versatility ; 
grave Clerks clustered around him at the foot of 
the pulpit-stairs, and kissed his hands ; and the 
Rector of the College of Mondovi, writing of his 
wonderful eloquence to the General at Rome, 
thought that it could only be expressed by the 
appropriation of a sentence that should have 
checked the flattery, " Never man spake like 
this man." When travelling, he stopped at each 
village, and gave a sermon to the rustics. He 
bent at the shrine of every saint that lay in his 
way, and strove to vanquish the unfriendliness 
of the older monkhoods by paying special 
reverence to their favourite saints, and by 
encouraging the common people to frequent 
their altars. 

From Mondovi he went to Padua, the scene 
of early studies, and there acquired fresh fame. 
Francesco Adorno, the Provincial, sent him thi 
ther, deeming his talent necessary for the public 
service ; and there, amidst brisk dispute con 
cerning election and reprobation, he seems to 


have essayed his controversial powers with con 
siderable effect. This took place in the year 
1567. Sometimes he sat at the feet of Doctors, 
and heard them heavily emitting disquisitions on 
law and metaphysics ; and thence rushed into 
the pulpit, and gave his mind free reaction in 
delivering popular addresses. At Venice, on one 
of the days before the carnival, when all Priests 
are expected to be very zealous in preaching 
down immorality, with the general understand 
ing that there will be much of it abroad, he 
declaimed grandly against the licentiousness of 
those days to a vast congregation ; and, at the 
close of that oration, several Senators did him 
the honour of kissing his hands. 

Next we find him at Genoa, taking part in a 
meeting of the Jesuits of the province, receiving 
strong patronage from the superiors, and figur 
ing high in those exhibitions of dialectic subtilty, 
whereby they were wont to impress the multi 
tude with admiration of the learning and intel 
lectual resources of the order. In rhetoric, 
logic, physics, and metaphysics, young Bellar- 
mine had no superior within hearing ; and at 
length the Provincial commanded the President 
of a great assembly to permit him to speak with 
out restriction. He did so ; and, after amazing 
.the learned, he suddenly turned to the people, 
"passing from the chair of wisdom to the gate 
of virtue," and with impassioned gravity exhorted 
both Clergy and laity to take heed to themselves. 


The more deeply read perceived that he had 
recited great part of a homily of St. Basil. 


The Fathers at Rome saw that his talent was 
too powerful to be limited to ordinary service, 
and resolved that the skill in disputation dis 
played at Genoa in academic skirmishing, should 
be spent in real warfare with the chiefs of the 
Reformation. In that view the Spaniard, Fran 
cisco de Borja, General of the Company, wrote 
to the Rector of the College of Padua, command 
ing him to send Robert Bellarmine to Louvain, 
there to prosecute the study of theology, and to 
preach in Latin. When the mandate came, the 
young Preacher had just surrounded himself 
with fresh applause, and the Rector, building 
large hopes on the profit to be derived from 
his zeal and popularity, was unwilling to lose 
such a workman, yet unable to disobey the 
General. He therefore acknowledged the receipt 
of the letter ; but represented that the constitu 
tion of the young brother was very delicate ; 
that physicians gave their judgment against his 
undertaking a journey at that season of the year, 
for it was winter, and it would endanger his life 
then to cross the Alps ; and he also intimated 
that the loss to the Society at Padua by his 
removal would be irreparable, and an occasion of 
grief to every member of the Academy. But 


remonstrance was vain. Pius V. was laying the 
foundation of the Palace of the Inquisition in 
Rome, and the Inquisitors were sweeping Italy 
of heretics without resistance. Controversialists 
had little to do in those parts where imprison 
ment, burning, and drowning silenced argument. 
Not so in France and Belgium, where armies 
had but half conquered the Reformation, and 
where the doctrine of the Gospel was known 
well enough to engage the assent of multitudes 
of the people, and even to bring over some of 
the Clergy to the side of truth. The General 
received other letters of remonstrance, written 
with extreme earnestness ; hut he knew that this 
Preacher would be more effectively employed in 
Belgium ; and merely allowing him to remain at 
Padua over the winter, then required him to 
proceed to Louvain without more delay. The 
Church in that country was infected, he said, 
with the poison of heresy, and a skilful 
surgeon was wanted there to search her 

Bellarmine professed himself willing to scale 
the Alps, although their heights were horrid 
with ice, and touched the skies, rather than lose 
an hour in hastening to the spot whither the 
supreme pleasure sent him. Great was the joy 
in Rome on seeing so noble a person as the 
nephew of Pope Marcellus present himself as a 
living victim on the altar of obedience ; and as 
soon as the Alpine passes were open, the willing 


messenger, accompanied with one Father Jacques, 
a Belgian, set out from Milan. One Irishman, 
and three Englishmen, among whom was William 
Allen, the incendiary of English Romanists, 
afterwards Cardinal, made up a congenial party. 
In good health and spirits, after a perilous 
journey, they reached Louvain, and he delivered 
his first sermon in that city on the 25th of July, 

The Belgians wondered at the sight of so young 
a man in the pulpit ; for although nearly twenty- 
seven years of age, he looked much younger. 
But this was nothing in comparison with the 
novelty of a layman preaching, in the eyes of 
people who had never seen the pulpit occupied 
by any except a Priest in sacerdotal vestments. 
If we might believe on the testimony of Andrew 
Wise, a Knight of Malta, and Grand Prior of 
England, the want of robes was more than made 
up by an envelopment of light that surrounded 
him when in the pulpit, while his face shone as 
the face of an angel. The Fathers of Louvain, 
therefore, besought their General to obtain a 
licence for the stranger to receive sacred orders, 
although regulations then in force made the 
ordination of any but a Jesuit professed depend 
on a special licence from the Pope. The 
licence was readily granted ; and at Liege 
he received the first tonsure, the four lesser 
orders, and the diaconate. At Ghent the Bishop 
Cornelius Jansenius made him Deacon, and then 


conferred on him the priesthood.* Robed in 
sacerdotal honour, Bellarmine returned to Lou- 
vain, and felt himself another man. 

Invested, also, with pontifical authority, and 
with no less boldness than sub til ty, for he 
never knew diffidence, he poured forth floods 
of eloquence that captivated those whom it did 
not convince, and they boast that " heretics " in 
great number came from Holland, and even from 
England, to hear him ; and that not a few, over 
whelmed by his talent, renounced Protestantism, 
and^-were reconciled to Rome. Whether there 
were any so simple, and, if so, how many, is a 
question of slight importance. Every one agreed 
that he was the most clever Preacher in all 
Popedom at that time. The Clergy of Paris 
earnestly desired to have him in their midst. 
The Cardinal-Archbishop Borromeo craved him 
for Milan. The Belgian Fathers kept a close 
hold on him for Louvain ; but, in truth, it best 
pleased the Pope to keep him to that chosen field, 
where he might hold up the Roman standard, 
cultivate his peculiar talent, and serve Romanism 
better than any other man of his age. 

He was now to teach theology in the Univer 
sity. Although he had preached from childhood, 

* This Jansenius is not to be confounded with the 
famous Doctor of Louvain, whose followers are known as 
Jansenists. The name of each was Cornelius ; but the 
latter, and more eminent man, was not born until the 
year 1585. 

25 ->^ c 


and even while a layman had risen to peerless 
eminence as a Preacher, he was not considered a 
divine. He had only spent one year in the 
study of scholastic theology at Louvain ; but, in 
truth, he knew quite enough for the purpose, 
and, all formalities being dispensed with, he 
received the title of Doctor, and took the 
professorial chair in the beginning of October, 
1570, "first of the Society who, with most 
prosperous beginnings, taught supreme wisdom 
in that city." 

To combat with the scholars of reformed 
Christendom was no light undertaking, at the 
best ; but having begun to teach polemics in 
the sight of Europe, he discovered, to a degree 
that he had not anticipated, his imperfect pre 
paration for the work. The interpretation of 
holy Scripture by means of Hebrew learning, 
not, however, matured by liberal and profound 
study as it now is, gave character and immense 
advantage to the Reformation, as it brought 
men nearer to the fountains of revealed truth. 
But of Hebrew Bellarmine was as ignorant when 
he began to teach theology, as he was untaught 
in Greek when he began, at Mondovi, to lecture 
on " Demosthenes, a Greek author." However, 
he mastered the elements of the grammar in a 
week, which was no very remarkable achieve 
ment ; and then a vocabulary, not what we should 
acknowledge to be a lexicon, (tantmn adhibito 
codice vocalulorum,) without any of the learning 


really needed by an expositor, set him up. 
Furnished with this apparatus, he drilled his 
pupils in Greek and Hebrew, making those 
exercitations serve himself as a study, and so 
he learned by teaching. 

Gifted with a most rapid perception, and 
capable of iron perseverance, he turned over the 
Fathers, aided, of course, by Latin versions of 
the Greeks, and searched the Councils. Folio 
after folio passed under keen review. Others 
had gone before him in the same path ; humbler 
brethren would aid in the mechanical processes 
of reference ; and the exigencies already dis 
covered and overcome by such men as Laynez, 
theologian at Trent, no doubt led to the accu 
mulation of helps to be placed at his command. 
One man had the glory, although the resources 
of a fraternity were at his disposal ; yet, even 
so, none but a man of great industry could have 
done so much as he did. And it appears, by 
his own statements, that the composition of his 
voluminous works was neither more nor less 
than the prosecution of a study. He entered at 
once on controversy, working his way through 
by means of material presented at the time, 
rather than producing, as those do who, in the 
ktter years of life, bring things new and old 
out of long-gathered treasuries. 

On. the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul, in 
the year 1572, the rising Doctor earned a new 
reward of diligence by elevation to the order of 
27 c 2 


the Professed of four vows, a distinction only 
conferred on those who are deemed worthy of 
entire confidence, and fit to be admitted into 
the secret of higher counsels. In obedience to 
the summons of his superiors, he took the fourth 
vow of obedience to the Supreme Pontiff, and 
his successors, "as to the Vicar of Christ the 
Lord, to go forth, without excuse, and without 
asking for any provision for the journey, to any 
nation whatever, at the command of His Holi 
ness, either among believers or infidels, on such 
service as might tend to the worship of God and 
the good of the Christian religion." * And it 
would appear, that he strove to sustain the new 
honour by those observances of sanctimony 
which were considered proper for one admitted 
into the first ranks of " the Religious." And as 
the history of such an one demands the adorning 
of gifts correspondent to the favours of earthly 
superiors, the biography of Bellarmine is at 
this time embellished with a miracle. That 
no secondary representation may attenuate its 
grandeur, Fuligatto himself shall exhibit this 
first-fruit of his profession. Hear him, thus : 
" There was in the College of Louvain, while 
Robert was residing there, one of the Society" 
(no very independent witness in the cause) 
" who had had, for many years, a running ulcer 
in his leg." (Ulcers, as the readers of my 

* Constitutiones Societatis Jesu. Exam. Gen. i., 5. 



biography of St. Francis Xavier may remember, 
furnish some interesting details for the history 
of the Society.) " Physicians and surgeons 
had tried all the succours of their art, but had 
not cured the wound. The patient, therefore, 
anxious in mind, and seeing that human care 
was mastered by the pertinacity of the disease, 
began to consider within himself whether there 
was any man made after God s heart, (factus ad 
cor Dei,} by whose prayer a way to recovery 
might be opened to him ; and while he was thus 
meditating within himself, Bellarmine appeared 
to be an effectual and grateful offerer of prayer 
to God ; and a hope sprang up within him that 
he might at once recover, if, after sacred con 
fession, he could also be refreshed by him in the 
communion. His faith was not vain. The 
Rector consented. He deposited the secret of 
his conscience in the ears of Robert,, from his 
hand received the most holy eucharist, and, 
behold, his leg was restored to soundness. The 
surgeon was astonished, when in two or three 
days he saw the wound covered with living and 
native skin, and the slightest trace of so long- 
disease did not remain upon the part." 

Most opportune was this miracle of healing on 
the sore leg. It was performed just at the exact 
moment when all expected it. The skin was 
native, even though the lesion of the skin had 
been artificial. The object of faith was Robert. 
The subject of faith was an obscure Jesuit bro- 
29 c 3 


ther. The effect of faith was the cicatrisation 
of a sore. The instrument of faith was mass 
after confession, an instrument most proper to 
be exalted for the confusion of heresy in Belgium 
and Holland. And the triumph of faith unless 
popular unbelief should hinder would consist 
in the glory of transubstantiation, of Robert, 
and of the Jesuits. Admirable calculation ! 

His intellectual power was displayed, far less 
equivocally than his power of working miracles, 
by the composition of a work in confutation of 
opinions put forth by Michael Baius, a scholar 
of Louvain. Yet, by avoiding the name of his 
antagonist, whose doctrine the Pope, Pius V., 
had condemned already, he covered himself from 
the inconvenience of an open combat, and no 
less merited the favourable consideration of his 
order and " the Sacred College." Probably 
this achievement had hastened his assumption 
into the ranks of the professed. 


Before the expiration of the year wherein he 
took the fourth vow, the Belgian horizon dark 
ened suddenly. Some cities of the province 
cast off their allegiance to Philip II. of Spain ; 
and a rumour flew that the Prince of Orange 
was on his march with overwhelming forces to 
attack Louvain. The city was quite unprepared 
to stand against him, arid men were all trem 
bling, and Monks trembled even more than they. 


The religious recollected the horrid slaughterings 
committed by the Duke of Alva, and, conscious 
that they had themselves instigated executions, 
dragonnades, and inquisitions, they expected 
vengeance every moment. Then came the alarm 
that Orange was in sight, even at the gates. 
The population turned out under arms. The 
Monks decamped, swift, like a flight of seated 
pigeons. The Rector of the Jesuit College, 
unwilling to abandon a scene where, haply, he 
might have some part to play, directed all the 
inmates to change their clothes, shave their 
hair, and seek shelter in safe places. They 
quickly swept away the tonsured hair, took some 
cash in their pockets, vacated the house, and 
resolving the community into pairs, each pair of 
fugitives chose the house wherein to lurk, or the 
road by which to flee. Bellartnine and his 
companion preferred flight, chose to seek Douai 
as the place of shelter, and set out on foot, 
girded with swords, and quivering with fear. 
For his part, however, he had little strength for 
such a pilgrimage ; and, after hurrying onward 
for some time, his limbs failed, and, panting, 
pale, and but half alive, he sank down on the 
road-side. There his companion, too, lay by 
him in sad fraternity of trouble ; sounds of 
horse-hoofs, and shouts of Calvinists, seeming to 
beat upon their ears. Soon they descried a 
party approaching from the direction of Louvain ; 
and while plunged in fresh terror by the thought 


that they might be pursuers of such persons as 
themselves, they perceived a permanent gallows 
erected at some short distance, for hanging cri 
minals, according to the custom of those times. 
"Take heart, my brother," sighed Bellarmine ; 
" for, if I mistake not, we shall soon hang there. 
There only wants a Calvinist hangman." Flight 
was hopeless ; for how could fainting footmen like 
them escape from the swift-wheeled chariot that 
neared them rapidly each instant ? " All things 
appeared ready ; and if those enemies should fall 
upon them, there were the instruments of mar 
tyrdom prepared." 

Amidst these premonitions of death, they saw 
the chariot bound over the ground, as if the horses 
had been winged the driver plied his lash they 
came near, the passengers were themselves half 
dead with terror ; but seeing two persons in an 
attitude of supplication by the way-side, took them 
to be fellow-sufferers, drew up, and kindly called 
them to come in. It was a company of "Catho 
lics," also fleeing from the enemy, and finding 
that of the two men one was no less than a dis 
robed Priest, they took him in, and resumed 
their speed towards Douai. " Then," said Car 
dinal Cresceuzio, when the incident had become 
historical, " by a miracle of Providence he was 
preserved from death, yet not defrauded of the 
glory of martyrdom, an occasion which he 
doubted not that he should embrace with alacrity 
of mind." This notion of alacrity was an after- 


thought ; but the sight of a gallows had sug 
gested the dread of martyrdom, and thus the 
shadow of a martyrdom comes in opportunely 
enough, and next in order after the narrative of 
a miracle. This event bespeaks canonisation. 

After a short absence he returned to Louvain. 
Seven years toil in Belgium had impaired his 
health, which was yet further weakened by the 
shock of war, and he became obviously unable to 
pursue his labours with such vigour as formerly. 
This the physicians certified by letter to Rome, 
and the Fathers there called him back to Italy. 

To reach the monumental city from Douai, it 
befell the traveller to cross a region infected with 
Lutheran and Calvinian pestilence. In those 
places the habit of a religious man, and the 
name of a Priest, were hateful things. " There 
fore the Fathers persuaded him to use the com 
mon dress of a man of the world, and to set out 
on his journey with such equipments as tra 
vellers of the laity use. He rode with belt and 
sword, and carried fire-arms on the pommel of 
his saddle." Clad in a habit " so unlike his 
virtue," he had scarcely left the city, when two 
travellers, heretics, whose names have not been 
accepted for the ornament of history, asked him 
to join company for Italy. His name, however, 
is made known, for he passed as Romulo ; and 
the strangers were intensely pleased with the 
good fellowship and talent of their Italian com 
panion. His knowledge of the language, and 


even his acquaintance with some part of the 
way, made him useful ; so much so, that they 
were glad of his services to give directions for 
the accommodation of the party at the inns. 
Most carefully he threw aside all that might 
Betray his priestly character, joked as merrily as 
any, and often rode onward, as if in sport, or as 
if to reach an inn and order provision, but, in 
reality, to pull out his prayer-book, and perform 
his devotion. At length they crossed the Alps. 
As they drew near to Genoa, the Italian air 
brought him a flush of rekindling health, and he 
entered that city, in company with the heretics, 
under the same guise of a profane layman. 
Relaxing none of his attentions, he conducted 
them to a lodging-house, told them he was 
going to the house of a friend, and, thus saying, 
disappeared. A day or two afterwards, having 
strolled into a church, as curious Protestants are 
wont to do, the travellers beheld their assiduous 
friend, robed at the altar, saying mass ; and 
recalling his features, which were very markt-d, 
two keen eyes, a serene and broad forehead, 
an aquiline nose, and most expressive mouth, 
they looked wisely at each other, and exclaimed, 
" There is our friend Romulo, changed into a 

At Genoa he found two orders from the 

General. By the first he was forbidden to go to 

Milan, where the Archbishop, Cardinal Borro- 

meo, was anxious to have him as a helper against 



the cause of truth, that had long been largely 
diffused throughout Subalpine Italy, but which 
was now to be suppressed, if possible, by French 
dragoons. But the Pope s Vicar, Cardinal Savelli, 
wanted him in Rome. By the second order, he 
was instructed to go onward by way of Monte- 
pulciano, see his aged father, and endeavour to 
recruit his health. 


Gregory XIII., one of the Pontiffs that 
laboured most successfully to promote a counter- 
Reformation, and suppress evangelical religion 
by consecutive operations and well-constructed 
schemes, patronised Jesuitism, his chief instru 
ment, with greater munificence than any of his 
predecessors. The subjects of the Papal States 
remember him as one of the most relentless 
Popes that ever wore them down with burdens 
of taxation. The Jesuits extol him with all that 
pomp of language that is so peculiarly at their 
command. No fewer than twenty- two colleges 
were erected for them at his bidding ; and he 
disbursed, on the single account of maintaining 
scholastics, no less, it is said, than two millions 
of ducats during his reign. The system of Pro 
paganda education then took the character 
which it retains to this day ; for, after inclosing 
streets and allotting revenues, he saw the Semi 
nary of all Nations opened, and heard orations 
in twenty-five languages, all translated into 


Latin, on the day of opening. Each student 
was taught to consider himself as a young sol 
dier, whose only duty would be to march to the 
conquest of Protestantism, under the banner of 
the Company. He was to be formed for victory. 

Bellarmine, by common consent, was chosen 
to be the leader of this band ; and the General 
informed him that it must be his duty to do at 
Rome, but on a grander scale, what he had been 
doing at Louvain. There, as Professor of Scho 
lastic Theology, he had taught languages, and 
entertained the wondering students out of a sort 
of cyclopaedia of erudition, while his writings 
against Baius, and the necessity laid on him to 
strive against the influences of the Reformation, 
had induced a strongly controversial habit, and 
made him famous as a disputant. He was 
extremely mild, politic, and winning, and there 
fore was just the fit man to train a generation of 
emissaries, to throw themselves into the heat of 
the battle throughout Europe. One Bellarmine 
was thought equal to conduct the enterprise, "just 
as one Hebrew woman, whom God armed with 
beauty, wrought confusion in the camp of Holo- 
fernes, and in the house of the King of Assyria." 
This conception was proud ; but it indicated an 
apprehension that artifice would be needed in 
war with the Reformation, no less than force. 

About the end of October, 15/6, he entered 
on his new chair of controversial Theology in 
Rome. The "General Controversies/ as they 


are called, or Controversial Lectures, occupy 
four folio volumes of the edition before me, and 
are considered to be second to nothing that has 
ever been written in defence of the Church of 
Rome. But those who love the charm of great 
names, and could weep to see one such name 
despoiled of the charm, as a child would weep 
over the shattering of a lily, will not thank me 
for giving them the analysis of the first part of 
an address delivered by Bellarmine in the Gym 
nasium in Rome, in the year 1577. It is pre 
fatory to the "controversy" concerning the 
Supreme Pontiff.* 

Before entering on the disputation, he has to 
premise some observations on its utility and 
magnitude, on the antagonists in argument, and 
on the order to be followed. The matter now 
treated of, but which is called in question, is 
great indeed. "For of what are we speaking, 
when we speak of the primacy of the Pontiff? 
"We speak of nothing less than the sum and sub 
stance of Christianity itself. For the question 
is simply whether the Church ought to last any 
longer, or to be dissolved, and fall to ruin. For 
what else can be meant, when you ask whether 
the foundation should be taken away from the 
building, the shepherd from the flock, the gene 
ral from the army, the sun from the stars, or the 
head from the body ; that the building may fall, 

* Robert! Bellarmini Opera, Colon. Agrip., MDCXX., 
torn, i., p. 498, seq. 

37 D 


the flock be scattered, the army beaten, the stars 
darkened, the body die ?" 

The adversaries, he affirms, although disagree 
ing among themselves on every other point, 
agree in attacking the Papal See ; and there 
were never any enemies of Christ and the 
Church, who did not also hate the Pope. "Isaiah 
seems to me to have long ago foreseen and pre 
dicted the magnitude and utility of this matter, 
when he said, Behold, I lay in Zion for a 
foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious 
corner-stone, a sure foundation. But he also 
predicts the contention and violence of heretics, 
when he calls this stone itself a stone of stum 
bling, and a rock of offence/ Which last words, 
although not put by Isaiah in the same place, 
the Apostles Paul and Peter so join all these 
words of the Prophet, that no one can doubt 
that they refer to the same end, and are to the 
same purport. And although we are not igno 
rant that these words principally apply to Christ, 
we consider that they may not inaptly be made 
to suit the Vicar of Christ" 

The foundations of Zion he understands to be 
the twelve Apostles, according to St. John ; but 
the one singular and chief stone mentioned by 
Isaiah, he considers to be Peter ; and for this he 
argues in the usual manner. Jews, Heathens, 
Greeks, and Turks have in vain spent their fury 
on this foundation-stone. Emperors have enacted 
tragedies in the Church. The devil has moved 


the Roman people (often) to rebel against the 
Pope. Internal schisms have threatened the 
existence of the Papacy ; but, even while anti- 
Popes were struggling in the chair of Peter, they 
could not break it. The gates of hell could not 
prevail against it ; and, although there had been 
Popes of little worth in that chair, it had not 
sunk under them. It outlasted Stephen VI., 
Leo V., Christopher I., Sergius III., John XII., 
and others not a few, showing proof that its 
continuance does not depend upon purity and 
morality in its occupants. Notwithstanding all 
this wickedness, which our lecturer confesses 
without reserve, he maintains that it is divinely 
founded, and kept erect by guardian angels, and 
by the singular providence of God. That the 
Papacy is fitly called a corner-stone, and pre 
cious, he expounds in some pretty common 
places ; and then, as to its being a foundation- 
stone, argues thus : 

"In fundamento fundatum.* FOUNDED IN 
A FOUNDATION. For what is founded in a 
foundation, except it be a foundation after a 
foundation, a secondary foundation, not a pri 
mary 1 Of course, we are not ignorant that the 

* So says the new Vulgate, in violation of the letter of 
the Hebrew original, TD173 1^72 well translated in 
our own Version, " sure foundation ;" by Lowth, " immov 
ably fixed ; " by the Jewish Ferrara, " cimiento a cimen- 
tado;" and so by others. . The ancient Latin versions, as 
collected by Sabatier, all contradict the Vulgate. 
39 D 2 


first and principal foundation of the Church is 
Christ, of whom the Apostle says, Other founda 
tion can no man lay, except that which is laid, 
which is Christ Jesus. But after Christ, the 
foundation is Peter ; and no one can come to 
Christ, except hy Peter." At this rate he travels 
to the end of his oration, and at the same rate 
he dashes through the controversy. A false trans 
lation, a bold substitution of one idea for ano 
ther, an insolent contradiction of the plain text 
of Scripture, serves as a starting-point ; and, this 
point once taken, there is no conclusion to which 
he cannot arrive by the most severe logic. Let 
him take his premiss, and you must grant him 
his conclusion. Great copiousness of patristic 
lore stands in the stead of sound elementary 
learning ; and, like many others of his age, he 
passed for wise, because dressed in a grotesque 
robe of erudition, and seemed formidable to 
many who allowed themselves, enslaved by a 
fashion prevalent, to fall into the same illusion. 
Of this the Romanists gloried, and claimed the 
victory ; but whenever these famous controver 
sies are submitted to the test of such criticism as 
is now familiar to every well-educated Protestant 
theologian, the Bellarminian web is found to be 
thinner than gossamer. 

Simultaneously with his labours as Professor, 

he was occupied, under the command of the 

Pope and the General, in preparing a collection 

of his works for publication, the first folio 



volume of which bears date in 1581. In the 
preparation of those volumes he was assisted by 
some of the most learned and subtle censors that 
could be found, but chiefly by Muzio Yitelleschi, 
the General, Benedetto Giustiniani, and Andreas 
Eudsemon Johannes, a Greek. These all testi 
fied that no one could be more willing to resign 
his own opinion, and pay deference to the judg 
ment of his advisers, whose revision of his 
labours extended even to the last syllable. And 
in this we discover one great reason of his 
acceptance at Rome. 

Not yet being made a Cardinal, he could not 
sit in the Consistory ; but constant use was made 
there of his information. The Cardinal of Santa 
Severina, Patriarch of all the East, and Chief of the 
Holy Inquisition, borrowed the counsels of Bellar- 
mine in regard to all the eastern churches, then sub 
jected to the fearful discipline of that Tribunal. 

I have elsewhere * spoken of the atrocities 
perpetrated by the Inquisition in India. Let it 
suffice here to say, that Bellarmine took a most 
active part in the ruin of the Syrian Church. 
He saw Mar Simeon, Bishop of Malabar, and 
Mar Joseph, Bishop of Cochin, perish in Rome. 
He advised, with sanctimonious placidity, the 
nefarious felony of Alexo de Meneses in Diamper. 
But we shall have occasion again to note some 
other proceedings of Bellarmine, invested with 
full powers as Inquisitor. 

^ Brand of Dominic, chap. xx. India. 
41 D 3 


It was at this time, associated with S. Filippo 
Neri, father of the Oratorians, and another less 
famous person, that he took part in the exami 
nation of a woman from Naples, who called 
herself a Prophetess, and reported her unfit to 
exercise the gift. The Pope, therefore, sent her 
home again with an injunction to mind her own 
matters, and abstain from the use of prophecy 
for the time to come ; as if the Pope could 
countermand a Divine mission, if such a mission 
ever had been given to the Prophetess of 
Naples. His fame as an author was exalted to 
the highest pitch ; and he was proclaimed 
scourge of heretics, flower of divines, the Atha- 
nasius and Augustine of his age, slayer of mon 
sters, bulwark of the Church, pillar of Christian 
faith, avenger of Catholic truth, prince of writers. 
" The breast of Bellarmine is the library of 
Christ!" With less exaggerated praises, and 
going so far as his talent was to be described, a 
Protestant might concur. But when eulogy 
grows extravagant, a suspicion rises that the 
extravagance is thrown over the subject as a 
veil to hide it from closer search. 


Amidst controversial and literary labours, 
and frequent correspondence with Cardinals and 
Inquisitors, who came, after the usual manner of 
the Roman Court, to employ him as their con- 
suitor, this leader of controversies received an 


order from the Pope to accompany his Legate, 
Cardinal Caetano, on a mission to Paris. His 
instructions required him to advise the Legate on 
all points relating to religion, or, in other words, 
to represent the ecclesiastical claims of the 
Pope, and watch for such an issue of the civil 
war, then raging, as might assure a conquest 
of the Reformation in France. Henry III. 
had been assassinated. Henry IV., successor to 
the throne, had been at the head of the Hugue 
nots, although rather attached to them by 
family connexion and antipathy to the Guise 
faction, than by any purely religious motive. 
The Princes of the anti-Protestant league had 
risen in arms, to prevent the occupation of the 
throne by a heretic. The country was in a 
state of civil war. The first object of the Lega 
tion was, of course, to sustain the rebels, and to 
get rid of the Protestant King. 

On his first appearance in this new character, 
the Parisians were disappointed. They expected 
to see a man who could figure with majesty in 
church, and, by a bold presence, command 
respect at court. But they saw a small person, 
more of a student than a courtier ; and could 
scarcely believe that their eyes beheld the great 
Robert Bellarmine. A man of so high repute 
ought, as they deemed, to be of lofty stature. 
But he had no lack of courage, and displayed 
considerable zeal in carrying out the intentions 
of his masters. Strictly abiding by the letter of 


instructions from both the General and the Pope, 
he kept aloof from all affairs that were merely 
political, so far, at least, as ostensible participation 
went, and kept within his proper department as 
theological consultor of the Legate. The chief 
service he rendered was in aiding to repress a 
movement of nationality among the French 
Clergy, who were on the point of assembling in 
Council at Tours ; not without a disposition to elect 
a Patriarch of their own, and to withdraw their 
obedience from the See of Rome. The Legate, 
fearing that such a procedure would be but the 
beginning of a succession of national schisms, 
ending in the disintegration of the Popedom, 
sent, from the pen of Bellarmine, a letter to all 
the French Bishops, telling them that even if the 
Church were diseased, she had no authority to 
heal herself, that it did not become the patient 
to prescribe the medicine. No one, he said, had 
power to convoke a Synod in France, so long as 
a Legate was in the kingdom : * it was the 
office of the Holy See to decide everything 
relating to faith and discipline. And he threat 
ened to excommunicate all who presumed to go 
to Tours for such a purpose, to lay an interdict 
on the churches, and to hurl the Priests from 
their dignity into the depths of canonical censure. 

* It was the prerogative of the Bishop of Aries to 

convoke a Synod of the French provinces, but in such 

terms as implied a royal permission to hold it. (De 

Marca, De Concordia Sacerdotii et Imperil, lib. v., cap. 17.) 



Threats of Roman thunder, and the sound of 
Navarrese artillery, deterred them from the exe 
cution of their purpose. 

Meanwhile the situation of the Legate and 
his train became very critical. Henry IV., not 
yet acknowledged by the Parisians, sat down 
before the city, and made the walls tremble and 
all hearts quake. Bellarmine had seen some 
fighting in Italy, when a boy, and had fled at 
the sound of an enemy in Belgium ; but here 
were to be encountered the horrors of a siege. 
People were feeding on dogs, and other unclean 
animals. The Spanish Ambassador and suite 
subsisted on horse-flesh ; and the Fathers of the 
Jesuit College were indebted to him for occa 
sional presents of this strange venison. Weeds, 
roots, or any vegetable substances, shoe-leather 
and harness, were employed to cheat the pangs 
of hunger. Prayers and litanies resounded for 
the deliverance of the city ; and Bellarmine 
made himself admirable by the self-infliction of 
many penances. At length the siege was raised, 
and the Legate received instructions to withdraw 
from the seat of war, that Sixtus V. might not 
be so implicated as to incur the wrath of the 
stronger party. 

The Legate, of course., had no disposition to 
remain. He had encouraged the Sorbonne to 
issue a declaration, that the people of the king 
dom were absolved from their oath of allegiance 
and fidelity to King Henry; and that, without 


scruple of conscience, they might assemble, arm, 
and collect money for the support of the Roman 
Catholic Apostolic religion against his execrable 
proceedings. Bellarmine attended at the secret 
meetings of the Legate, and his confidential 
adherents ; rose from his seat, and withdrew to 
a corner of the room, when strong measures were 
proposed ; gave ear to nothing that would shock 
his meekness ; merely said, when the question, 
Who should be King of France, was agitated : " I 
have nothing to do with politics ; but I want to 
see a King in France that will establish the decrees 
of the Council of Trent." This meant that he 
would have Philip II. of Spain ; not Henry, the 
actual Sovereign. And the doctrine he strenu 
ously taught, tended to dethrone every Pro 
testant Sovereign in the world. Yet he declared 
himself innocent of politics. However, Henry had 
possession. For argument, Henry used the sword. 
Even the Romanists in France were divided on 
the question ; but the victor decided it by the 
" last reason of Kings." 

But that the Pope should hesitate, in a case 
where the King resisted was a heretic, seemed 
grievous to these Ambassadors. The Legate 
resolved to go back to Rome ; and Bellarmiue, 
with a suspicious faculty of prescience, foretold 
that the Pope would not live long ; nay, that 
he would die within that very year. Four months 
before that event, Sixtus had been suffering 
symptoms that became aggravated gradually, 


until the extinction of life; and "persons of 
good sense" I now quote from Gregorio Leti 
" thought it extremely probable that he had 
been poisoned." This impression was confirmed 
by the physicians, on a post mortem examination. 
The Spaniards were suspected, at Rome, of this 
crime ; * and it is notorious, that his failure 
from promises made to the League in France 
to support them against Henry IV., exposed him 
to the violent resentment, both of the Spaniards 
and the Jesuits. It was remarkable, therefore, 
that Bellarmine should have exercised a pro 
phetic gift just at that time, and in that manner. 
The Legate, having left the Pope in good health, 
as robust and headstrong as ever, thought his 
death unlikely ; but the Jesuit constantly insisted 
that he would surely die. Had he calculated the 
time necessary for the poisonous solution gene 
rally used in Italy for that purpose, to take effect, 
he could not have been more exact. Accord 
ingly, on the morning of September 19th, 1590, 
"finding a bundle of letters on the table, just 
brought from Rome, while every one present 
was guessing at their contents, Father Robert 
took up one, and, after trying the weight of 
it in bis hand, somewhat jocosely said, Qui 
dentro vi sta un Papa morto, There is a dead 
Pope inside here/ " The Secretary of the Lega- 

/* L Histoire de la Vie du Pape Sixte Cinquieme, 
;raduit de 1 Italien de Gregorio Leti. Paris, 1698. 
Liv. x. 




tion opened this letter, announced to the 
pany that Sixtus was really dead ; * and Caetano, 
anxious to take his place in the Conclave, instantly 
gave orders to quit Paris, and with his train, 
including the prophet, hurried back to Rome. 

The pleasantry of Father Robert, weighing 
the letter laden with a dead Pope, is by no 
means unaccountable. Sixtus had branded him 
with heresy in the sight of the whole world, by 
placing his great work on the Controversies in 
the Index of prohibited books, because he only 
attributed to the Popes an indirect poxver over 
temporals out of Rome.f As soon as the Pope 
died, the controversialist was released from that 
literary durance. It was natural that he should 
anticipate the decease of so hard a master with 
pleasure, and even be off his guard in letting his 
pleasure be apparent. And it was equally natural 
that he should afterwards express himself in such 
words as these : "To speak plainly, so far as I 
think, so far as I know, and so far as I understand, 
he is gone down to hell." J If Sixtus had con- 

* Marazzani, capo vi. 

f In Mendham s reprint of the " Index Librorum Pro- 
hibitoium " of Sixt. V., the following prohibition occurs : 

Robert! Bellarminii Disputa- -\ 

tiones de controversiis Chris- /Nisi prius ex superioribus 
tianae fidei adversus hujus j regulis recoguitae fuerint. 
teporis haereticos. J 

J Quoted from Watson s Quodlibets by Mendham, 
Literary Policy of the Church of Home, p. 105 and note. 


sented to take a Jesuit Confessor, had flattered 
the Society, had supported Spain and the League 
more vigorously against Henry of Navarre, and 
had been satisfied with the doctrine of Bellarmine 
as to his power over the temporalities of Princes, 
it is not likely that we should have heard of this 
prophecy or of its fulfilment. 


A travel of six or seven weeks brought Caetano, 
his Prelates, his Jesuit, and their servants to the 
gates of Rome. The cavalcade entered with no 
small bravery. The Prince of the Church 
hurried with palpitating heart towards the 
Vatican, there to sit in Conclave, to create 
or be created Pope. Sixtus, indeed, had 
been replaced by another, Urban VII. ; but 
Urban saw no more than twelve suns rise upon 
him, and was now departed, leaving the Sacred 
College to strive once more for a vacated throne. 

Father Robert found himself at home in the 
College of Jesus, where loving brethren, " after 
the manner of the Society," covered him with 
embraces, in signal of liveliest affection. 

Now, there was more work for him to do. 
Notwithstanding his inclusion with authors pro 
hibited, Sixtus being gone, he was thought 
eligible for the most confidential service ; and 
the new Pontiff, Gregory XIV., soon found him 
employment. The Council of Trent had not 
been satisfied with the editions of the Vulgate. 
49 E 


In pursuance of their decision, the Popes had 
directed it to be revised. Sixtus V. gave his 
authoritative sanction to the last revision, which 
was to be received universally as perfect. But 
it was pronounced very imperfect ; and Gregory 
commanded a select Congregation to meet in his 
presence, and determine how such an edition 
might be prepared as would meet the expecta 
tion of the Church. Bellarmine was one of that 
Congregation. After various opinions had been 
given, he proposed that it should be confided to 
a few learned men to expurgate the edition of 
Sixtus from beginning to end, " collating it 
with old editions, and with manuscript copies, as 
well of the Greeks as of the Latins, and with 
commentaries of the Fathers ; by which means the 
emendation of Sixtus V. might have been made 
such as he would have had it, and might have 
been brought to such a state of perfection as 
becomes the heavenly work." To this proposal 
the Congregation acceded ; and it was appointed 
that Cardinal William Allen, Master of the Sacred 
Palace, Cardinal Marc-Antonio Colonna, Robert 
Bellarmine, and four others, should meet in the 
palace of Colonna, and there prosecute the 
revision. On Bellarmine, it is said, fell the 
chief part of the labour, and final arrangement 
of all their contributions. He also wrote the 
Preface. And on reading this Preface, I find 
more ingenuity than truth in the statement 
that, the defectiveness of the Sixtine Vulgate 


was to be attributed to the printer,* while the 
fault lay so far as that edition was really 
faulty with the editors themselves, under the 
responsible sanction of the Pope. Those who 
have gone over the same ground, critically ex 
amining the patristic workmanship of Bellar- 
mine, can best estimate its quality. After the 
revised, and more deeply Romanised, Vulgate 
came out in the pontificate of Clement VIII., Bel- 
larmine asked his General, Aquaviva, to allow him 
ten years for the production of a commentary. 
Aquaviva, not disposed to encourage a multiplica 
tion of commentaries, refused permission ; and 
we have no reason to regret that he did refuse. 


A service of so great magnitude to the Church 
of Rome as the preparation of an ecclesiastical 
Bible, as the Vulgate really is, deserved 
something more than the Society could give. 
Promotion in the Society, however, might fitly 
precede elevation in the Church. The Gene 
ral, after taking the suffrages of his assist 
ants, made Bellarmine Rector of the Roman 
College ; and the new year, 1593, found him just 
entered on the duties of the office. Already 
Aquaviva had made him Confessor and Spiritual 
Father of the youth in that College ; and there is 
reason to believe that, as a mild and exact 

* A-" animadvertens non pauca in sacra Biblia praeli 
vitio irrepsisse, quae," &c. (Pracfatio ad Lectoreiu.) 
51 E 2 \ 


disciplinarian, he was well qualified to govern. 
Daring a period of thirty-two years he had 
obeyed well, and could, therefore, gracefully 
command, and reasonably exact obedience. 
According to the custom of the College, he 
delivered a discourse, expository of the method 
of administration he intended to pursue ; and 
took for theme the following words from the 
Book of Ecclesiasticus : Rectorem te posuerunt. 
Noli extolli : esto in illis quasi unus ex ipsis 
et non impedias musicam* "They have made 
thee Rector. Be not lifted up : be among them 
like one of themselves and do not interrupt 
the music." Speaking much of the humility he 
desired to exemplify, he encouraged the inmates 
of the College, two hundred and five in number, 
to approach him with entire confidence, and 
placed himself at their service. 

And in order to exemplify the virtue of humi 
lity, he descended to the humblest offices, and 
addressed each fellow with as much formality of 
respect, as if their position had been reversed, 
suffering none to be uncovered, or to stand 
waiting in his presence. Returning once from 
Frascati to the College, just in time to cook 
the dinner, it being his turn that day to 
perform the duty of cook, he walked into the 
kitchen, and applied himself, as usual, to the 
laborious operation. Every one admired the 
Rector, who could exercise such exemplary self- 

* Chap, xxxii. 1 5. 


denial ; although fatigue might well have served 
him as excuse for ordering any one to serve that 
day in his stead. Nor was he less jealous over 
the Society in regard to the virtue of poverty. A 
Father had some superfluous articles of apparel in 
his room, which the Rector caused to be removed 
to the common vestiary of the house ; and the 
Father, although suffering inconvenience by the 
loss, at the same time, of some necessary clothing, 
professed that he would rather lose his clothes 
than his poverty. It behoved a Jesuit to have 
nothing that he might call his own ; and there 
fore the Rector turned out of his own room every 
trifling ornament or superfluity, retained only 
the most necessary articles, and changed even 
those for others of meaner material or coarser 
fabric. And added to this assiduous display 
of poverty and humility, was great facility of 
linguage, and blandness of manner, which served 
to bring fairly into view a large store of know 
ledge, the fruit of long and laborious application : 
" so that there was none who, returning from 
that oracle, did not say, Did not our hearts burn 
within us, while he spake with us by the way ? 

In the beginning of the reign of Clement 
VIII., he was deputed as one of two repre 
sentatives of the Roman province to the General 
Congregation, holden in the year 1593. 

By the common voice of this congregation, 
the General sent him to take the government of 
the province of Naples. His diligence in visitu- 
f>3 E 3 


tion, and the manner of his government, won 
general applause ; and, after spending twenty- 
five months in that office, he received a summons 
from the Pope to hasten to Rome. 


On the death of the Cardinal of Toledo, the 
Pope s theologian, Clement VIII. resolved to 
supply the vacancy by appointing Bellarmine. 
He had read with peculiar satisfaction one of 
his treatises, (I)e Translatione Imperil,} and had 
shown deference to his opinion by desisting 
from a purpose of introducing the Platonic 
philosophy into the school of the Sapienza in 
Rome. Bellarmine objected that the nearer 
resemblance of Plato to the inspired writers, 
rendered him so much the less eligible ; and 
argued, that as a Heathen is less mischievous 
than a heretic, so is Aristotle less mischievous 
than Plato. The Cardinals Baronio and Aldo- 
brandini also used their influence in his favour. 

Now constituted oracle of him whose bare 
word is itself an oracle, it became necessary that 
he should dwell beside the chair of infallibility ; 
and apartments in the Vatican awaited his occu 
pation. But it was the uniform custom of the 
Jesuits in those days to profess abhorrence of 
honours and elegancies, when set before them ; 
and where every one acted alike in such cases, it 
is impossible to conjecture how much of humility 
was to be attributed to an imperious custom, or 


how much to the man. Bellarmine implored 
permission to withdraw from the Vatican, and 
live in the Jesuit House, which was quite 
near enough for his presence to be had at any 
moment ; and thither he went to elaborate 
theology for the service of the Holy See. 

And Clement was carrying this theology into 
practical application. Alfonso d Este, Duke of 
Ferrara, had lately died, leaving the dukedom by 
testament to Cesare d Este, in default of here 
ditary succession. Don Cesare took possession, 
the subjects most willingly rendered him their 
oaths of allegiance, and other princes received, 
as matter of course, the usual intelligence of his 
accession to the ducal chair. Not so the Pope. 
He said that the Duke deceased, as his vassal, 
had no right to dispose of the state, which 
reverted to the Roman See by the extinction 
of the line. The Emperor interposed a remon 
strance, and so did the Venetians, but in vain. 
Cesare set about self-defence, raising a little 
army, and fortifying the city ; not hoping for 
power to resist, but venturing to hope that 
other states would see it their interest to 
espouse his cause. Rome rose in wrath. Money 
was levied, artillery collected, and 25,000 soldiers 
added to the forces of the Vicar of Christ ! 
Aldobrandini appeared as General of the recruits, 
which were to be doubled, if necessary. A fort 
night was given to Cesare to consider, whether 
he would fight or yield. If contumacious, a 


sentence of excommunication hung over his 
head : and the same curse threatened Emperors, 
Kings, Republics, Princes, all or any who 
might abet his rebellion against the Apostolic- 
See. The Pope appeared, full robed, in the 
court of St. Peter s, had the sentence read, 
flung a lighted taper on the ground, to signify 
the plunging of the soul of Cesare into eternal 
darkness ; and the Cardinals threw down smaller 
tapers, to concur in the damnation of the rebel. 
The bells rang an alarum ; the drums rolled ; 
the hoarse trumpets poured forth defiance ; the 
cannon of St. Angelo confirmed the anathema. 
A proclamation on the gates of St. Peter s, and 
of the Lateran, and in other accustomed places, 
declared Cesare to be smitten with spiritual 
death, and to have incurred temporal death in 
consequence. The Lord of Ferrara bowed to 
the outrageous wrong, and ceded Ferrara and the 
Ferrarese to the Chief Priest of Rome ; but 
was allowed to subsist on his allodial estates, 
with the title of Duke of Modena and Reggio. 
The Pope decreed that the territory thus 
usurped should never be granted to any one 
in feudatory title ; and hastily set out to take 
possession, accompanied by most of the Court. 
Bellarmine, necessarily, went with him ; and it 
was observed that while at Ferrara, although his 
great simplicity compelled him to lodge with the 
Jesuits, he was constantly in presence of the 
Pope, was treated with unusual distinction, and 


was marked as a Cardinal in petto* Alarmed, 
of course, at the prospect of a red hat, he en 
treated his General to endeavour to avert so 
dreadful a calamity. Aquaviva mentioned this 
repugnance ; but Clement understood the form 
alities, and just answered that Bellarmine, being 
a Jesuit, could not have such a dignity. But 
the courtiers, familiar with their own dialect, 
interpreted the Papal word as the vulgar were 
wont to interpret dreams, just to mean the 
contrary. And this, be it noted, is frequently 
the best interpretation of a pontifical sentence. 
The pen of Bellarmine earned its reward. 


But to return. A month had not elapsed 
after the arrival of Bellarmine at Rome from 
Naples, when the Pope added him to the Con 
gregation of the Sacred Roman Inquisition. 
Never was honour conferred more worthily. The 
theologian had reduced the doctrine of the 
Inquisition to summary, for the instruction of 
the rising priesthood. After citing the examples 
of Moses, Elijah, Joshua, Jehu, and Nebuchad 
nezzar in justification of the salutary practice of 
putting heretics to death, he gathered the fol 
lowing palmary arguments from the New Testa 
ment. I translate them closely. 

" In the New Testament we have Matt. viii. 
to l^egin with, where we learn that the Church 
* In petto " in the breast," or intention, of the Pontiff. \ 
57 \ 


may reject those who refuse to obey, regard 
them as Heathen and publicans, and then hand 
them over to the secular power, as no longer 
children of the Church. Then we have Rom. 
xiii., teaching that the secular power may 
punish wicked men with the sword. * For, it 
says, * he beareth not the sword in vain : for he 
is the minister of God, a revenger to execute 
wrath upon him that doeth evil. from which 
two places it is evidently collected, that it is law 
ful to cut off heretics from the Church, who are 
rebels against the Church, and disturbers of the 
public peace, and deliver them to be punished 
with death by the secular judge. 

" Christ also, and His Apostles, compared 
heretics to things which are, without controversy, 
to be repelled by fire and sword ; for the Lord 
says, in Matt, vii., * Beware of false prophets, 
which come to you in sheep s clothing, but 
inwardly they are ravening wolves. And in 
these words in Acts xx., * I know this, that after 
my departing shall grievous wolves enter in 
among you ; heretics must certainly be under 
stood, under the name of wolves, as St. Ambrose 
beautifully explains it in his commentary on 
the beginning of Luke x. But grievous wolves 
are most lawfully put to death, if they cannot 
be otherwise got rid of; for the life of the 
sheep demands far higher consideration than 
the death of the wolves. Also John x. He 
that eutereth not by the door into the sheepfold, 


but climbeth up some other way, the same is a 
thief and a robber. Where, under the name of 
* thief and robber/ heretics are to be understood, 
and all seducers, and inventors of sects, as 
Chrysostom and Augustine explain it : and every 
one knows how thieves and robbers are punished. 
And iii 2 Tim. ii., heresy is compared to a cancer, 
which is not cured by medicaments, but must be 
cut out with a knife, or it will perpetually spread, 
and corrupt the whole body. Then in John ii., 
Christ drove the traders out of the Temple with 
the scourge. In Acts v., Peter killed Ananias 
and Sapphira because they had lied against the 
Holy Spirit : and Paul, Acts xiii., smote a false pro 
phet with blindness, because he was endeavouring 
to turn away the Proconsul from the faith." 

Then comes a long train of witnesses, from 
Constantine, and the " most religious Emperors," 
Theodosius, Valentinian, and others, down through 
a succession of saints, ending with St. Bernard. 
And, lastly, Bellarmine himself speaks. 

" Finally. It is proved by natural reason, 
First : Heretics may be justly excommunicated, 
as all allow ; therefore they may be killed. The 
consequence is proved, because excommunication 
is a greater punishment than temporal death. 
Augustine (lib. i. Cont.adv. Leyis et Prophetarum, 
c. 1 7) says, that it is more horrible to be delivered 
to Satan by excommunication, than to be smitten 
with the sword, consumed in flames, or thrown 
to wild beasts to be devoured. 


tc Secondly : Experience teaches that there is 
no other remedy. For the Church has proceeded 
gently, and tried all remedies. First, she only 
excommunicated ; then she added pecuniary 
fines ; then exile. At last she was compelled 
to come to death ; for heretics despise excommu 
nication, and say that it is but a cold thunder 
bolt. If you threaten them with pecuniary 
fines, they neither fear God nor regard men ; 
but say that there will be no lack of simpletons 
to believe them, from whom they will get main 
tenance. If you shut them up in prison, or send 
them into exile, they will corrupt with their 
discourses all that come near them, and them 
that are afar with books. Therefore the only 
remedy is, to send them in good time to their 
own place. 

" Thirdly : Falsifiers, in the judgment of all, 
deserve to die. Heretics are falsifiers of the 
word of God. 

" Fourthly : In the estimation of Augustine, 
Ep. 50, it is worse for a man to be unfaithful 
to God, than for a woman to be unfaithful to her 
husband. If this is to be punished with death, 
why not that ? 

" Fifthly : There are three causes for which 
reason teaches that men should be killed ; 
which causes Galen beautifully lays down in his 
book, Quod mores animi corporis temperamen- 
tum sequantur, towards the end. 

" The first cause is, that bad men may not 


hurt good ones, and that mischievous persons 
may not oppress the innocent. And hence, 
most justly, as all agree, murderers, adulterers, 
and thieves are put to death. The second is, 
that by the punishment of a few, many may be 
corrected ; and they that would not benefit the 
commonwealth by living, should benefit it by 
dying. And hence we also see that most justly, 
by common agreement, some horrid crimes are 
punished with death, although they have not 
hurt any one in reality, as necromancy ; and 
certain unutterable offences, and offences against 
nature, which are so much the more gravely 
punished, that others may understand them to 
be extremely wicked, and not dare to perpetrate 
the like. The third is, because, even to the very 
men who are killed, it is often useful to be 
killed ; that is to say, when they are growing 
worse, and there is no likelihood that they will 
ever come to a sound mind." And so on.* 

No one could doubt the eligibility of such 
a pleader for the Inquisition to be himself an 
Inquisitor. His demeanour, too, when Con- 
suitor, and the disposition he had manifested in 
regard to the suffering Nestorians in India, and 
their kidnapped Bishops, had given entire satis 
faction to the benevolent Patriarch who, for 
their own good, (!) extinguished the spark of 
life in many Syrian opponents of the Society of 
Jtsus. And, to add emphasis to the irony, 

\ De Laicis, lib. Hi., cap. 21. \ 
61 * F 


Bellarmine, illustrious advocate of capital pun 
ishment for heresy, was employed to give judg 
ment on the petitions for mercy that might come 
up to the Pope from persons not yet incarcerated, 
on behalf of relatives or friends languishing 
in the dungeons. "Before a rescript of grace 
could be given, his judgment was expected." 
And where there was no petition, nor even any 
accusation of heresy, his lynx-eye descried it. 
Thus he detected Nestorianism in the profession 
of faith sent to Paul V. by the Patriarch of 
Babylon. Under his patronage, the terrible 
folio of Farinacci, succeeding to that of Eymeric 
as the Inquisitorial Manual, came to light. Nay, 
he revised, enlarged, and recommended it. Yet 
this Inquisitor could be marvellously tender to 
some persons. One day, for example, when on 
his way to the Holy Office, a heavy shower of 
rain came on. He stopped the carriage, request 
ed some Prelates that were with him to sit close, 
that his Familiars might get in ; and when an 
attendant reminded him that that was not the 
usage, he devoutly answered that the Familiars 
were his brothers in Christ, and if one of them 
were to fall sick from a wetting, he should have 
to render an account to God. But he would 
not condescend to count Galileo among his 
brethren in Christ. He made the astronomer 
choose between prison and recantation ; and it 
was at his feet that Galileo knelt to renounce 
the heresy of the revolution of the earth. 


While thus engaged, I cannot find how 
many rescripts of grace he procured, Cardinal 
Taruggi, an intimate friend of Baronius, re 
quested him to write a Catechism for little 
children, accompanied by a more copious expli 
cation for the use of their teachers. It was 
wise to employ the most effective writer then to 
be found for this important service ; and, in 
fact, the best writers only have been able, in any 
Church, to provide this kind of literature. Bel- 
larmine consented, and produced the " Christian 
Doctrine," which may almost be regarded as the 
basis of Romish popular Catechisms throughout 
the world. Xavier and others had written 
similar manuals ; but the " Doctrina Christiana " 
of Bellarmine went far to supersede them all. 

Inquisitor, Theologian, and Catechist, our 
hero discharged also another kindred function, 
being made Examiner of Candidates for the 
dignity of Bishop. No man, presenting himself 
before so awful a personage, could presume to 
waver one hair s breadth from the exact line of 
Roman orthodoxy. 

Nor must I forget to note that he was also 
appointed Regent of the Penitentiary of St. 
Peter ; that court wherein absolution is dispensed 
to those who can only hope for pardon through 
the mercy of the Pope himself. No Priest, no 
Bishop, can release them from the thraldom of 
certain sins. They must apply at Rome ; and 
in Rome there is an office where such applica- 
63 F 2 


tions are examined, and when it is found that 
the transaction is in order, and when the neces 
sary fees are paid, the Regent, or chief clerk, 
writes in the margin one or other of the forms 
appointed ; thus it passes to the Pope, and the 
Pope concludes the matter.* 


Scarcely had the hand of Bellarmine rested 
for two months upon the helm of .Roman mercy, 
when a rumour spread through court and citv 
that Pope Clement VIII. intended to make a 
fourth promotion of Cardinals. A thrill of 
expectation ran through the bosoms of the 
Prelates. Down to the humblest Monk was felt 
an intense impatience to know on whom the boon 
would rest. Perhaps the Holy Father was not 
himself perfectly decided, either as to number or 
names ; but fame sometimes points to the final 
resolution, and in this instance Clement found 
that the public voice was pronouncing in favour 
of the new Regent of the Penitentiary. And 
this wandering suffrage reached the ear of Father 
Robert himself. From the Palace Apostolic he 
had heard nothing : the mind of the Pontiff was 
shut up in deepest silence. Only it was known 
that a Consistory would be held for discussing 
the merits of personages named as worthy of 
elevation to the purple. On the night before, 

* Relazione della Corte di Roma, da Fr. Antonio Zacca- 
ria, parte ii., capo 23. 


he sent a memorial to the General of the Society, 
praying him to endeavour to prevent the descent 
of such a dignity, if haply it were imminent. 
Bellarmine further entreated Aquaviva to obtain 
for him an audience of the Pontiff, that he might 
throw himself on the floor of the Papal closet, 
and by force of tears, if words were not suffi 
cient, divert His Holiness from such a thought. 
He also trusted that, if even this failed, no one 
could fancy that he had hankered after the 
purple while refusing it. 

Next morning, March 3d, 1599, the Pope 
nominated " twelve august Fathers," reserving 
one in petto, and among them Robert Bellarmine, 
of whom he spake thus : " Him we choose, 
because the Church of God has not his equal in 
learning ; and because he is nephew of a 
most excellent and most holy Pontiff." While 
the Consistory was yet assembled, Cardinal 
Aldobrandini despatched a messenger from the 
Vatican to command him not to stir out of his 
house, under penalty of anathema, until the 
Pope should give him leave. That made it 
clear that he was to be Cardinal ; but seeing 
that he was a Jesuit, and could only receive the 
hat by an act of sovereign authority in the 
Pope, it became him to reluctate, and he there 
fore sat in silence, like a man transpierced with 
grief. But when a few moments had passed 
away, he summoned all the Fathers of his 
College, and besought their counsel. After a 
65 F 3 


decorous hesitation, they agreed to think that 
his poverty was lost for ever. The Pope had 
named him, the Sacred College had accepted the 
nomination, and he was at that moment taken 
out of their hands and in the custody of the 
Pope himself. He could not resist Providence. 
Bellarmine alone dissented, or seemed to dissent. 
He sent a messenger to Aldobrandiui to say, 
that, even with groans, he besought an audience 
of the Pope, to give his reasons for deprecating 
the dignity. Aldobrandini sent back to say, 
that the Pope wanted not reasons, but obedience. 
"Then Bellarmine, seeing himself hedged 
round every way, and unable to escape, burst 
into tears. He bemoaned the loss of that 
sweet and tranquil peace that he had enjoyed 
for so many years in the Society ; and therefore 
reiterated those words which, in like circum 
stances, the most holy Pontiff, Gregory the 
Great, had sighed out : Call me not Naomi, 
call me Mara ; for the Almighty hath dealt very 
bitterly with me. " While thus lamenting, they 
came to conduct him into the Pope s presence to 
take the cap, and meet the others who would 
come for the same purpose, shaven and robed. 
But Bellarmine was immovable. He would not 
put off the black habit of his order. Then came 
his friend Aldobrandini from the Pope s closet, 
with a special message ; and him Bellarmine 
intreated that he might stay in "his proper state 
of religion and poverty. But Aldobrandini 


repeated that the Pope required submission, 
under peril of excommunication. "At this 
intimation the servant of God bowed his head, 
and in tears devoutest put on the purple ; and 
thus weeping, was conducted to the Pope s feet, 
to receive the cap. And there, too, he wished 
to speak for himself ; but the Pontiff, with new 
precept, and with threatening of excommunica 
tion, iattt sententice, quite shut his month."* 

Thus ended that part of the ceremony which 
was required by a rule of his order, f and which 
used to be repeated on every like occasion, with 

^ Marazzani, capo viii. 

p " It will also be of the utmost importance, in order 
that the happy state of the Society be preserved, most 
diligently to put away ambition, parent of all evils in 
every republic or congregation ; and to close up the way 
against seeking, directly or indirectly, any dignity or pre 
ferment in the Society. All the Professed, therefore, 
must vow to our God and Lord that they will never do 
anything to obtain such ; and that they will inform 
against all who do ; and they shall be held incapable of 
any preferment of whom it can be proved that they have 
sought it. They must also promise our God and Lord 
that they will do nothing to obtain any preferment or 
dignity out of the Society ; nor shall any one, so far as he 
can help if, give his consent to any election of himself 
to any office of the kind, unless his obedience, who may 
command under pain of sin, shall have compelled him to it. 
But let every one consider in what manner he can contri 
bute to the salvation of souls, according to the humility 
and submission of our profession, and that the Society be 
not deprived of those men who are necessary to the 
attainment of this end." (Const., pars x., sect. 6.)j 



a uniformity that renders it impossible to give 
the weepers any credit for their tears. He was 
compelled so to refuse as to render compulsion 
necessary. That being accomplished, nothing 
hindered acquiescence. 

A circular letter from Aquaviva to the Pro 
vincials of the whole Society, on occasion of this 
event, may not be uninteresting to my readers. 

" Perhaps," he writes, " you may have already 
received, by letters from others, intelligence of 
what God has disposed concerning the recent 
assumption of our Father Robert Bellarmine 
into the order of Cardinals. Yet I consider it 
to be consistent with the duties of my office to 
write you more distinctly. For by relating what 
really took place, I shall extinguish, or at least 
moderate, that feeling which the Society enter 
tains with regard to admitting any marks of 
honour ; and with which feeling we earnestly 
desire that God may constantly keep us in our 
humility. I wish, therefore, all to understand 
clearly, that not only on the part of the Society 
was everything done, seriously to deter the Pope, 
by reasons laid before him, from bestowing 
honours and titles of the kind ; but that Father 
Bellarmine himself signified to the Pope, with 
all possible humility, that he only desired one 
thing, to live and die in the same manner in 
which he had lived so long. Bat the Pope 
thought that he had given the matter sufficiently 
careful consideration, and that the appointment 


was pleasing to God. He, therefore, would not 
listen to the supplications of Bellarmine. And 
indeed, before he had received the first insignia 
of Cardinal, when he was beginning to speak 
for himself, and, while yet undressed, was refus 
ing to be attired in the purple robes, the Pope 
forbade him to speak, under the penalty of 
instantly thundering censures upon him, if he 
said a word more about refusing. Perceiving 
how matters were, we all rejoiced, and see that 
nothing that could be done was left undone, 
either by the Society or the Cardinal. And we 
may also hope that this election will redound to 
the service of God. For since the Pope has 
freely conferred this dignity on a man of so 
great learning, integrity, and religion, as is 
Bellarmine, we may expect him to be a Cardinal 
of most praiseworthy example in the Church, 
devoted to public usefulness, and friendly to 
the Society. Now that God may favour all our 
desires, and give health to Bellarmine himself, 
with which he may attain to as great eminence 
in the purple as he enjoyed by his virtue in 
the Society, let all the Priests that are in your 
province offer one mass, and all the members 
that are not in orders one rosary to the Divinity. 
Meanwhile, I commend myself to the holy sacri 
fices and prayers of you all. Rome, March 
6th, 1599." 

To himself the usual visits and letters of 
congratulation came. Montepulciano was in a 


rapture of pride and joy at the addition of 
another Cardinal to those of whom the town 
already boasted. In places where he had resided, 
the inhabitants kept holiday. At Taverna, a 
small town in Calabria, the rustics seemed beside 
themselves. The house-tops flamed with torches ; 
the people danced and sang through the streets ; 
tears floated in their eyes with joy, and the 
grand dames wept outright. The fraternities 
walked in procession for three nights, shouting 
Te Deum as they went ; adding by way of chorus 
at intervals, Viva Gesu ! Viva Bellarmino ! And 
the multitude caught the cry, " Long live Jesus ! 
Long live Bellarmine !" 


Where there is one spiritual despot to control 
the conscience general, every man who submits 
his particular conscience to that authority should 
obey without scruple. But if he cannot over 
come his own scruples, he ought to break loose 
from the vassalage at once, and appeal to God, 
who is, indeed, the Judge of all. The Pope was 
acknowledged by the Jesuits to be the controller 
of their common conscience ; and as such he 
compelled Bellarmine to be a Cardinal under 
peril of anathema. Yet the new-made Cardinal 
rendered the Pope no more than a divided 

Here are questions of conscience which, using 


the third person, he proposed in writing to his 
Genera], Aquaviva, with the answers rescribed. 

Nt^ How has he entered into this dignity ? By 
the true door ? Yes, by the true door. 

2. Can he live in that state without offending 
God ? Certainly he can. 

3. Could he go on better in the service of 
God, if he were to return to his former manner 
of life ? That is doubtful. 

4. Would not this be much better? This, 
too, is doubtful. 

5. Is it likely that he could be permitted to 
return ? Scarcely, ^r 

6. Or would it be safer, simply to give ear to 
God who calls, and who commands by the voice 
of His Vicar, and not be solicitous about changing 
his state, but to become perfect in that rank in 
which obedience places him ? 

Aquaviva gave no answer to this last question. 
He told him, indeed, that he had entered by the 
right door, and might possibly be a Cardinal 
without offending God ; but that, whether he 
could serve God better in that state, or whether 
it was better for him to continue thus, was 
doubtful. There was no hope of being extri 
cated from this ambiguous position ; and on the 
great question of submission to "the Vicar of 
God," the General did not pronounce. The 
General, for himself, was bound to serve the 
Pope ; but he, and every other member of the 
Society, were by a special rule bound to the 


Society, even after exaltation to a dignity beyond 
its precincts. There could be no absolute release 
from that order, as there might from others ; 
and Bellarmine, being perfectly imbued with the 
spirit of Jesuitism, would interpret most strictly 
the rule he had sworn to keep.* Resolved to 
be a true Jesuit to his latest breath, he entered 
on a course of asceticism, surpassing the require 
ments of the Society itself, and serving to dis 
tinguish him from every other member of the 
College. And he was "a poor Cardinal," depend 
ent for subsistence on the allowance annually 
distributed to the poor Cardinals, and on the 
revenue of a benefice that had been previously 
given to him, but was liable to fluctuation. 
This poverty, however, had its advantages. 
He acquired a reputation of sanctity, and main- 

* " He must also promise God that if, being compelled 
in this way, he accepts any preferment without the Society, 
he will ever afterwards hear the counsel of the General for 
the time being ; or that of any one whom the General may 
appoint for this purpose in his stead ; and that if he shall 
think that to be best which he " (the General) "advises, he 
will carry it into execution. Not that he who is made 
Prelate " (the word is here used in its general etymological 
sense ; but Prelates are, in common language, distinguished 
from Cardinals) " has any one of the Society to be his 
superior; but because, freely, in the sight of God he is 
willing to be bound to do that which he shall understand 
to be best for the Divine service, and because he is pleased 
that there be some one who will propose it to him with 
Christian charity and liberty for the glory of God and our 
Lord." (Const., pars \., sect. 6.) 


tained himself in a position of independence. 
Without much of the pomp, he enjoyed the 
privileges, of his rank. 

Having taken possession of the palace, he 
engaged a steward whom he well knew, to carry 
out his plans ; and having ascertained the state 
of the establishment, as left by his predecessor, 
and made inquiry concerning the customs of 
those few Cardinals who had persevered in 
habits of asceticism, he made out an inventory 
of the furniture, submitted it to the inspection 
of Aquaviva, and begged him to direct how 
much plate, what articles of furniture, and how 
many servants he should have ; in order that he 
might not so much live for the glory of the 
purple, as for the observance of the vow of 
poverty which he had taken on entering the 
Society. Even after his revenue became larger, 
his voluntary humility continued. The " court " 
of a less ostentatious Cardinal had usually con 
sisted of about sixty persons. Baronius, lauded as 
a great despiser of worldly pomp, counted forty- 
five in his train. But Bellarmine would have no 
more than ten gentlemen (uomini di respetto), 
fifteen of inferior class, and menials, making up 
the number to thirty. For a peer of Kings 
this modesty was wonderful. On every suitable 
occasion he spoke of his robes as a grief and 
an incumbrance, flames of fire enwrapping 
his body, rather than a visible distinction 
of honour ; and it is related, that, once in 


company, taking off his broad red hat, and 
holding it up, he hurst into tears, and said, 
" God gave me this purple in punishment of the 
sins that I committed when I was in the world." 
He described himself as an object of pity rather 
than of envy, and, after a long speech, setting 
forth his misery, left the party sitting in silent 
admiration of humility and heavenly-mindedness 
in Princes of the Church so rare. 


Cardinals are privileged to advise the Sove 
reign Pontiff; and Clement VIII. had desired 
Cardinal Bellarmine to tell him if he saw that 
anything might be better and more wisely done 
for the good of the Church. In obedience to 
this injunction, the Cardinal sent him a paper 
" concerning the chief duty of the Pope." Cle 
ment perused it carefully, and on each article 
noted a reply. This document came into the 
possession of Fuligatto, who gives it in his 
biography ; and it certainly exhibits a remarkable 
example of plain dealing. 

The Supreme Pontiff, Bellarmine began by 
saying, sustains in the Church a threefold repre 
sentation of God. He is Shepherd and Ruler 
of the universal Church, Bishop of the city of 
Rome, and temporal Prince of the Papal state. 
But, of all his offices, the care of all the churches 
is indisputably the first, and incomparably the 
greatest. First, because St. Peter was consti- 


tuted Shepherd of all the Lord s flock, long 
before he was made Bishop of Antioch, or of 
Rome. There are many other Bishops of most 
noble cities, and many other temporal Princes ; 
but the Pontiff of the world, the Vicar-General 
of Christ, the universal Shepherd of the Church, 
stands alone in dignity. Greatest, because, 
while the diocese of Rome is narrow, and the 
temporal principality of the Church is compre 
hended within contracted bounds, the Supreme 
Pontiff has no limits to his dominion, except the 
limits of the world itself. 

This office, so ancient, so great, so singular, 
the Pope might easily fill, if he were to appoint 
good Bishops over all the churches, and compel 
them, if necessary, to do their duty. And if the 
good Bishops would choose good Priests, good 
Preachers, and good Confessors, everything 
would be right. But the Priests, Preachers, 
and Confessors were not good. The writer 
hinted that the failure began with Clement him 
self; and therefore said, "Trusting in the Apos 
tolic benignity, I will confide to the bosom of 
the most pitiful Father, or rather, I will lay at 
his feet, my scruples, which, I must confess, will 
not let me rest." 

To this exordium the Pope answered : " We, 
too, are alarmed. But as the hearts of men are 
only known to God, and we can only elect men, 
two examples comfort us. One is, that when 
our Lord Jesus Christ elected twelve Apostles, 
75 G 2 


after spending a whole night in prayer, which 
we know not that He did on any other occasion, 
there was yet one Judas among those whom He 
elected. Then the twelve Apostles, all full of 
the Holy Spirit, elected seven Deacons, of whom 
one was Nicolaus, afterwards so notorious a 
heretic. Which examples we suppose Almighty 
God left in the Church for the comfort of those 
who elect." 

Bellarmine proceeded to enumerate six points 
of reformation that could not be overlooked 
without peril. 

Churches were left without Pastors, a defi 
ciency which it was the Pope s duty to supply. 
Clement confessed that, in this particular, he 
had sinned, and still was in sin. But fit men, 
he said, could not be found. Many, very many, 
were recommended, but he could not trust 
them ; and, besides, he had determined to lay 
hands suddenly on no man. 

The second point of censure was the promo 
tion of useless Prelates. Churches ought to be 
provided for good persons, not persons with 
good churches. The Council of Trent says, that 
they to whom it pertains to make promotion sin 
mortally, if they do not observe this rule. The 
implied conclusion is, that the Pope is in mortal 
sin. His Holiness answers : " This we know ; 
and, so far as we can, we always keep it in view, 
endeavouring to provide for churches, not for 
persons. But the Church must be the first 


and greatest object of consideration. This is 
true ; but if we are to be confined to the more 
worthy (dignioribus), the Church will never be 
provided for, because we have no means of know 
ing who is the more worthy. And as for the 
Bishops themselves, we are here again in diffi 
culty ; for if we will not give bishoprics to those 
who ask for them, or to those whom others 
recommend, we know not how the churches are 
to be provided for, especially the smaller and the 
poorer ones. If your lordship knows how to 
manage this better, we shall be glad to hear 
your method, and to adopt it. Many good things 
may be said on this subject ; but when we come 
to practice, we encounter great difficulties." 

The third point was the absence of Bishops 
from their churches ; for of what use is a good 
man jf he is not at his work ? Many Bishops 
are Apostolic Nuncios, who do not see their 
churches for years together, but are busy else 
where with politics. And many are -at Rome, 
doing work that might be done by others, 
leaving their dioceses to ruin. " In this mat 
ter," writes Clement, " we confess that we have 
sinned, by too readily indulging Bishops with 
permission to come to Rome ; and when they 
are come, it is difficult to get rid of them. You 
may remember, however, that formerly there 
were far fewer resident. As for the Nuncios, we 
think it far more becoming that Nuncios should 
be Bishops, because they command Bishops, and 
77 G 3 


are of greater authority than Princes and peo 
ple ; * and if we were not so badly off for men, 
we should change them sooner." And then he 
extenuates the blame of employing ecclesiastics 
in civil magistracy. 

The fourth evil was that of " spiritual 
polygamy," or, as we should speak, pluralities. 
Against this Bellarmine severely arrays the sen 
tences of saints and canonists. " As for this 
polygamy," rejoins the Pope, somewhat angrily, 
" at present it only consists in those six cardi- 
nalitial bishoprics, in which we do not intend to 
make any change ; for this matter has been 
examined by our predecessors, even since the 
Council of Trent, and is fixed. And to disturb 
the order of the College, and throw blame on 
the acts of our predecessors, and of so many 
Cardinals, seems to us a thing that could not be 
done without scandal." 

The fifth sin reprehended was the facile trans 
lation of Bishops from one see to another. It 
was branded as a breach of spiritual marriage. 
" For it is well known, from cap. Inter corpo- 
ralia, fyc., that the bond of spiritual marriage is, 
in a certain sense, greater than the bond of 
bodily marriage, and therefore cannot be dis 
solved, except by God, or by the Vicar of God 
declaring the will of his Lord." And it is in- 

\* Here is a reason why the Pope will not send a lay 
man as Ambassador lo England. His representative here 
must exercise jurisdiction* i 
7<^ \ 


credible that God could approve of such breach 
of marriage for the sake of pecuniary gain. The 
Pope quietly answers that, on that subject, lie 
has given good advice to Princes. 

Lastly, Bellarmine condemns the resignation 
of bishoprics without lawful cause, and, worst of 
all, when the retiring Bishop keeps the revenue. 
" It is as if a man should divorce his wife, and 
yet keep the dowry." Clement justifies his per 
mission of this exorbitancy by saying, that such 
resignations are always effected with difficulty, 
and always preceded by due examination in the 
Consistory of Cardinals. 

And after the discussion of these abuses come 
professions of humility from Bellarmine, and 
professions of good intention and good-will from 

But this kind of counsel from a poor Cardi 
nal, who carried himself as loftily as if he had 
been privileged as highly as " the Nephew," and 
whose poverty, being the expression of a severe 
and censorious cynicism, marked him to the 
public eye, must have made his presence more 
and more vexatious to the courtiers. 

Although the semblance of good-will, at least, 
continued between the Pope and his monitor, its 
cordiality was weakened. The famous contro 
versy between the Dominicans and Thomists on 
one side, and the Jesuits and Molinists on the 
other, divided the Romish theologians, for seve 
ral years, into two adverse hosts, Molina, a 


Spanish Jesuit, led the opponents of predesti- 
narianism, and to him the Society adhered. The 
Pope convened Doctors of both parties, entered 
warmly into the question, and was anxious to 
use his prerogative and enforce decision. Bellar- 
niine, devoted to Jesuitism, strenuously defended 
the Spaniard; and, seeing that the decision would 
not leave his party in possession of the field, 
laboured hard to dissuade the Pope from carrying 
his wish into execution. He and his colleagues 
succeeded in putting off the threatened decision, 
that would have pronounced their doctrine con 
trary to that of St. Augustine and St. Thomas. The 
quarrel was hushed at Rome. Nations espoused it ; 
and if the Holy See had condemned either party, 
the other might have revenged itself in schism. 
The divines refrained from a precipitation of the 
affair, and Bellarmine, honoured with the arch 
bishopric of Capua, was put out of the way. 
By his own censure of absentees, he was bound 
to reside within the diocese ; and thus, wedded 
to Capua, he was removed from Rome. 


Cardinal Baronius had often applied to the 
Pope on behalf of his friend, soliciting appoint 
ments to rich benefices as they fell vacant ; but 
hitherto without success. The annalist repre 
sented to His Holiness that, having created Bel 
larmine a Cardinal, he ought to make the favour 
complete by giving him a sufficient maintenance. 


Clement sometimes expressed regret that he had 
not found opportunity to do so ; and Bellarmine 
as often replied, that he wanted nothing ; but 
comforted himself, when reflecting on his de 
pendence, as a poor Cardinal, on the bounty of 
the reigning Pontiff, by considering that, when 
Clement died, he could go back again to the 
Jesuit College, and there be sure of the same 
fare as his brethren. 

On the vacation of the archiepiscopal see of 
Capua, Clement thought well to dismiss the 
stern monitor, and the stubborn champion of 
Molinism, with a good grace. On Sunday, April 
21st, 1602, the second Sunday after Easter, 
the Gospel for the day being, " I am the 
good Shepherd," the Pope consecrated him 
with great pomp as Archbishop, and gave him 
the pallium two days afterwards in the Vatican. 
On the second day after this investiture, he was 
on his way to Capua, hastening, partly to avoid 
the trouble of ceremonial visits, and partly to 
enter on the new station without delay. 

He made his entry into the city on the 1st of 
May. The populace were rejoicing in the pros 
pect of indulgences, which he had promised to 
all who should merit them by going to mass, 
and thus be the first to take benefit of his minis 
trations as their Metropolitan. The Clergy met 
him first, then the laity, and, under shelter of a 
silken canopy, he rode into Capua. The six 
gentlemen elected to the government of the peo- 


pie carried the canopy. The nobility surrounded 
him ; some at the bridle, some at the stirrups, 
some on either side the horse. And this was in 
expression of a homage that the Church exacts 
on all similar occasions.* The cross preceded, 
to show that he took possession of the province. 
The way was strewed with flowers. From the 
belfries of the twenty parish churches, and from 
those of the numerous monasteries, came clash 
ing peals of welcome. The crowds, kneeling, 
received his blessing as he advanced ; and, at the 
cathedral, into which he was carried over the 
heads of the crowd, it seemed to him that St. 
Stephen, the protomartyr and guardian of the 
place, extended the right hand of recognition. 
And if it be true that an arm of the saint, whom 
devout men buried, was disinterred, and if, in 
defiance of the waste of sixteen centuries, it 
remained entire in Capua, that very limb was car 
ried in procession round the church, and in this 
fashion exhibited for two days, by command of 
the new Archbishop, and to the delectation of 
the people. On the feast of Ascension, although 
it was not usual to preach on that day, he set 
aside the custom, took the pulpit, and delivered 
a sermon on these words of the Prophet : " See, 
I have this day set thee over the nations, and 

* Fuligatto and Marazzani relate what the ccrremoniale 
JEpi.scoporum of Clement VIII., (still in use,) lib. i., cap. 2, 
prescribes. These honours, therefore, were not sponta 


over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull 
down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to 
huild and to plant." But the Capuan pulpit 
had been poorly occupied ; the inhabitants felt 
little desire to hear sermons ; and it was not 
until after great exertion and perseverance that 
he could gather numerous congregations. Then 
he wrote an earnest letter to the Pope, entreat 
ing that, while such cities as Rome, Naples, and 
Milan, were supplied with excellent Preachers, 
second-rate cities, like his own, should not be 
left destitute. " In these," he says, "if the 
Bishop does not speak, all are mute, except 
during the days of Lent. In Lent, indeed, there 
are many Preachers to be heard, whom pay, 
rather than charity, attracts, and who rather 
gape after gain of money than seek souls. 
These, therefore, are miserable cities, desolate 
fields, which Heaven, while it waters all the rest, 
rains upon for one month only in the year ; and 
from such fields you can gather nothing but 
thorns and weeds." 

In reply to a friend who asked him, some 
years afterwards, by what means he made him 
self so good an Archbishop during his residence 
of three years in Capua, he gives this account : 
" As when one looks into a mirror, I set my 
mind to consider intently the life and conduct of 
the most admired Bishops that had been in the 
Church before me ; endeavouring, by God s help, 
to throw off all that was imperfect in myself, 


and assume a new exterior, resembling theirs as 
nearly as possible, tbat so I might adapt my 
actions thereunto. T therefore read constantly 
the histories of those Bishops, perusing in order 
the volumes of Surius ; and I read, especially, 
the lives of the holy Popes Ambrose, Martin, 
Augustine, Germanus, Anselm of Canterbury, 
Antonine of Florence, Lawrence, Patriarch of 
A T enice, and others. But I derived the greatest 
advantage from the narratives of those most 
holy Prelates who went before me in Capua, 
Ansbertus and Andoenus ; for both of them per 
fectly sustained the name and office of Pastor, 
nourishing the souls of their subjects with the 
constant preaching of the word of God, their 
bodies with liberal charities, and themselves with 
the wholesome food of prayer." 

If Bellarmine had written to gratify the eye of 
Protestantism, he would scarcely have exhibited 
so artlessly the earthly model of perfection that 
he had chosen for imitation, or have disclosed so 
fully his utter forgetfulness of Him who left us 
an example that we should walk in His steps. 
If instead of the lives of Bishops he had studied 
the word of God, his profiting would have been 
indeed apparent, and his career as an ecclesiastic 
far more equal. Still we must acknowledge 
that he was, in his way, a sincere and success 
ful imitator ; and if it be a virtue in a man who 
has no domestic tie, and who is free to consume 
all that comes into his hands, not concerning 


himself as to widow or child, his virtue was 
heroic. He gave away his income almost as 
fast as he received it. The poor, indeed, for 
whom scarcely any other provision was made, 
could only look to the Clergy for help. The 
Church revenues were held with the understand 
ing that almsgiving was due from the Incum 
bents. By his steward, or with his own hand, 
he gave money daily to crowds of beggars ; and 
as he was not churlish in the distribution, so 
neither did he make any careful inquiry into the 
necessity or the character of the beggars that beset 
his door. In all such cases, therefore, charity is 
but artificial, and we are obliged, in order to find 
any ground for praise, to observe the temper in 
which he dispersed his bounties ; and here it is 
pleasant to find indications of an exceedingly 
benevolent nature, with an air of simplicity so 
captivating, that I have experienced a sensation 
of disappointment in passing from a cursory 
reading of the biography to a careful study of 
his life. 

His proceedings as a disciplinarian give us 
occasion to note the state of the Italian churches 
in those times. 

Gambling, with its attendant vices, prevailed 
generally in Capua and the neighbouring towns, 
in spite of royal edicts to the contrary ; and the 
local authorities did not interfere. The Arch 
bishop, at first, intended to launch spiritual 
censures on the offenders, but on consideration 


perceived that such a measure would only bring 
himself into contempt. His predecessor, an 
eminent decretalist,* had never interfered with 
the amusements of the people, and they had 
been too long pursuing their own course to 
be brought suddenly under ecclesiastical re 
straint. Secretly, that the magistrates might 
not suspect his interference, he sent a messenger 
to the Viceroy of Naples ; obtained a new law for 
the prohibition of gambling-houses ; and had the 
Governor dismissed, and another put in his 
place. An edict came from Naples, the new 
Governor enforced it, and they regarded Capua 
as reclaimed " by those arts, to a sense of 

The laity being thus involuntarily reformed, 
the Archbishop set about the reformation of the 
Clergy also, who were not less addicted to the 
same sin. The Priests, in general, laid aside the 
dice, or tossed them in private ; but after all those 
efforts, one of them was brought up as incor 
rigible. " How is it," asked Bellarmine, " that 
you, an ecclesiastic, and a Priest beside, did not 
fear that the sound of dice would be heard, but 
played even in open day, either for pleasure or 
for shameful gain ?" " Because," answered the 
Priest, " I am destitute of maintenance ; and 

* Cesare Costa, thirty years Archbishop of Capua, who 
was employed by Clement VIII. to edit a seventh book of 
Decretals, with glosses and notes. (Ughelli, Italia Sacra., 
torn, vi., p. 359.) 


unless I get money by play, I must starve." 
The good Archbishop gave him as much as he 
would have won by a lucky throw, bade him 
come to him whenever he would otherwise have 
gambled, and promised that each time he should 
receive as much. The Priest, seeing that he was 
caught, became another man. 

In visiting the churches, Bellarmine found 
that in many of them there was seldom any sort 
of ritual performance, but that the Priests them 
selves bought and sold in them, as if they were 
market-houses ; the hucksters actually exposing 
their wares in the naves. Porters traversed the 
aisles with burdens, and trade was carried on so 
briskly in the porches, that the Priest could not 
be heard to sing mass. This indecency the 
new Archbishop diminished, but could not 

Priests of the first class were seen to solicit 
the meanest occupations for the sake of a living, 
and appeared seldom at church. This degradation 
he forbade, and commanded them to attend at 
lectures established for their instruction. He 
convened the Canons frequently in chapter, 
and himself presided, restoring ceremonies, and 
settling disputes. In the absence of Canons 
from their stalls, laymen had been accustomed to 
occupy those convenient seats ; but he would not 
suffer them even to enter the choir, which was 
not a place, he said, for " profane persons," 
for the laity were all held to be profane. Every 
87 H 2 


day he attended in the choir once, and on festivals 
at all the hours. To encourage attendance there, 
each Canon, when present, was allowed a small 
sum of money. Bellarmine took his own daily, 
and then applied it to some charitable use. By 
his presence, too, he compelled the Canons to 
refrain from chanting immodest words with sacred 
music, and from levity in church. He was 
also careful to obtain young men of as good 
character as could be found, to be educated for 
the priesthood, free of charge. 

When visiting his diocese, he presumed to imi 
tate our blessed Saviour, by sending forward two 
Jesuits, whom he likened to disciples, to announce 
the approach of their master. Several Jesuits were 
generally to be found in Capua, and he maintained 
them in his palace. For twenty-two years there 
had not been a Provincial Council in the metro 
politan church, nor a Diocesan Synod ; but he 
caused Synods to be held annually, and ordered a 
Council once in three years ; but Bellarmine had 
scarcely fulfilled one triennial cycle, when he 
was called to Rome again. For the sake of 
showing hospitality, he enlarged and repaired the 
archiepiscopal palace. The cathedral, too, he 
repaired ; restoring and decorating the chapel of 
St. Paul, which had been converted into a 
lumber-room. Nor did he forget to remove the 
body of his predecessor into a sumptuous tomb, 
and place a neat inscription over it. 

Near the church of St. John there was a 


nunnery, where the depravity of the inmates had 
become so scandalous that a Congregation of 
Cardinals had forbidden any more females to 
be admitted as novices. The community had 
dwindled down to six, and those six " religious 
women" were covered with infamy. On the 
arrival of Bellarmine, they applied to him for 
something more than he could give, a restora 
tion to good report. They asked for mass to be 
said in their chapel once again. It was granted, 
and a sermon besides, when they fell on their 
knees, wept, implored interest at Rome for the 
grant of a new character, and offered to submit to 
any rule that their Archbishop would impose on 
them. The patrons of those "sacred virgins" 
plied Bellarmine hard for a restoration of cha 
racter at Rome, and permission to return again 
"to a form of holier life." The men of Capua 
complained that the nunnery, having a revenue 
of three thousand ducats, and therefore capable 
of receiving many women, to the relief of poor 
families, was no longer available for that use. 
Bellarmine wrote to the Sacred Congregation, 
and prayed them not to shut their ears against 
returning virtue. The Cardinals could scarcely 
imagine such a reformation to be possible ; but 
they yielded to his importunity, and gave licence 
for other females to be admitted to recruit the 
society of the repentant virgins, under condition of 
their vacating the nunnery where no one would 
ever imagine that aught good could dwell, and 
89 H 3 


taking up a new abode. Bellarmine superintended 
the change ; having first of all purified the Nuns 
by eight months absolute seclusion, under two 
ladies from another house, bought other pre 
mises, made enclosure with very lofty walls, and 
only permitted one small spot for communica 
tion with the world, a small grating, so close 
that not a feature could be seen through it by 
the most prying eye. Encouraged by this suc 
cess, another disordered community, that of St. 
Francis and St. Clare, was committed to his 
hands ; and by kindly diligence he succeeded in 
placing those Nuns, also, on a more creditable 

Attracted by his fame as a Prelate, multitudes 
of young men resorted to him for ordination ; 
and when any were to be sent out as Missioners 
to China or to India, the Rector of the Roman 
College was wont to send them down to Capua, 
that from his hand they might receive the 
indelible character of priesthood. At this time 
he also enjoyed the credit of having so great 
power with God, that nothing could be denied to 
his intercession. Sick persons were brought to 
him for healing, and others possessed with devils 
for exorcism. One woman was brought from a 
neighbouring village, said to be possessed by 
many. The Cardinal knew her to be an ener- 
gumen, but commanded her to go home again. 
Afterwards, intending to use every means for her 
recovery, and fully conscious of the power which. 


Christ our Lord had given him, he began more 
austerely than usual to break the strength of the 
demons by fastings and prayers. By this they 
felt his power, and exclaimed with, indignation, 
"What has Cardinal Bellarmine to do with us? 
He torments us more than he ought ; he com 
mands us to go forth ; he compels us to depart 
hence ; therefore we will depart." Having re 
peated these words several times, they left the 
woman in the church, much exhausted. Many 
sick persons they say he healed ; and " on the 
bodies of the diseased he laid a small piece of 
paper, cut out of the epistles of St. Ignatius, 
on which was his name written by his own 
hand ; and by that many were restored to 

Be it remembered that these fables are told of 
one of the cleverest doctors of whom the Church 
of Rome can boast, and that they were pub 
lished, as soon as possible, after his death, both 
in Italian and Latin, by the command of Muzio 
Vitelleschi, General of the Society of Jesus, with 
dedication to Urban VIII.,* who might himself 

r " It would have been glorious, if, as thou didst intend, 
thmi hadst written concerning Bellarmine, in the dignity of 
manners and of purple in which thou wast. But it is more 
glorious that thou wast so prevented ; and that the impe 
diments were, to thy feet, the kisses of the world ; to thy 
handv, the bounties of heaven ; to thy mouth, answers and 
oracles of truth ; to thy soul, God and the management of 
His affairs." (Dedication by Silvester 1 etra Sancta, the 
translator, to Urban VIII.) 



have been the biographer, but for his elevation 
to the pontificate. Such are the finer peucillings 
wherewith a Roman artist, of most approved 
manner, finishes a portrait that is to be offered 
for the admiration, if not the worship, of the 


The biographer and his followers thought it 
necessary to invest this "servant of God" with 
the gift of prophecy. If, as they say, Bellar- 
mine predicted, on leaving Rome, that Clement 
VIII. would die within three years, his charac 
ter rises not in our estimation. We remember a 
former presage of the same very suspicious kind. 
The death, however, did take place when the 
Archbishop had been two years and ten months 
in Capua ; and after preaching a farewell sermon 
he made haste to take part in the election of a 
successor to the pontificate. 

Clement expired March 3d, 1G05 ; and on the 
14th day of the same month, sixty Cardinals 
shut themselves up in Conclave.* In the first 
scrutiny it was found that Bellarmine had the 
largest number of votes. Eleven gave him a 
nomination. Eight bestowed a similar honour 
on Baronius. After Baronius, many received 
insignificant numbers of tickets, or single votes. 

* A description of a Conclave, and of the ceremonial 
now observed in the election of a Pope, may be found in 
the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine for 1851. * 



The Cardinals were not yet prepared to act in 
earnest ; for the intrigues and contradictions 
which kept them there until the 1st of April were 
but beginning ; and therefore they gave a sort of 
random vote for the least likely persons. Each 
Cardinal-Deacon had one, at least, except San 
Cesareo, who jocosely mourned that no one 
wanted him for Pope. Bellarmine sternly 
told his friends that the levity of the Conclave 
was offensive ; " for although Bulls, and the 
honour of the blessed God, bound the Cardinals 
to give their votes to the most worthy, they had 
voted for boys of fifteen, treating that as a jest 
which demanded infinite respect, and thus com 
mitting mortal sin." The suffrages for Bel 
larmine diminished, as soon as their Eminences 
fell to work, and grew more numerous for 
Baronius, who displayed his satisfaction in the 
usual manner by perversely quoting Scripture. 
The passage most in his lips was, " The pains 
of death have compassed me about." But 
when at the very last another interest rose into 
ascendency, Alessandro de Medici received the 
tiara, and came forth as Leo XI. Four weeks 
durance and contention had wearied out the 
aged Princes ; and several of them were already 
driven to their palaces by gout, fever, or vex 
ation.* Conclaves, in those days, were more 
tumultuous and scandalous than they are likely 
to be at present, under improved regulations. 
: > Conclavi de Pontefici Romani. MDCLXV11I. Leone XL 


A fatality haunted new-made Popes. Twenty- 
eight days had been consumed in the creation 
of Leo XL, and in twenty-six he ceased to be. 
Again, therefore, fifty-nine Cardinals went into 
the Vatican. On Sunday morning, May llth, 
and without keeping any Sabbath, for there 
is none at Rome, they proceeded at once to 
form themselves into parties. In this Con 
clave Bellarmine became a person of import 
ance. Sforza, his relative, and Aquaviva, nephew 
of the General of the Jesuits, applied themselves 
in earnest to collect votes for him ; and on the 
scrutiny fourteen were counted in his favour. 
For a short time a rumour prevailed that Bellar 
mine was likely to be elected, under favour of 
some of the most eminent members of the Col 
lege. But, in reality, some of his supporters merely 
used him for the time to divert support from 
another candidate ; and the prospect of having a 
Jesuit Pope alarmed all the Cardinal-Friars, who 
raised a clamour instantaneously. The reporter 
of the proceedings of this Conclave says, that 
" Bellarmine had great friends in consideration 
of his learning, and singular goodness ; but his 
being a Jesuit, and of delicate conscience, made 
him to be little loved by many, who moved every 

stone to ruin him The remembrance of 

Bellarmine s disgrace under Sixtus V., who 
caused his work on the power of the Pope to be 
prohibited, was revived. There were earnest 
discourses concerning all the consequences that 


might be apprehended from the exaltation of a 
Jesuit, and the management on the other side 
was carried on so vigorously that the project 
was quickly set at rest." * After close fighting 
for five days, the Cardinal Borghese emerged 
from the crowd of competitors as Pope Paul V. 
The cries of adverse factions, and the din of can 
vassing, that had resounded in those chambers, 
were now hushed ; and the new Pontiff was 
robed, worshipped, and proclaimed in Rome as 
" Universal Father." 


When Bellarmine left Capua, he thought it 
likely that his services would be acceptable at 
Court. His wordy patron had been equally 
careful to remove him thence, and to measure 
out revenue so moderately, that no very influential 
treasury should be at his disposal. Clement being 
no more, he had, probably, good reason to infer 
from the correspondence of old friends that his 
position would be altered. And in a valedictory 
sermon, he even ventured, " although not a pro 
phet," to predict that the new Pope would not 
suffer him to quit Rome, and that, therefore, 
the Capuans would not see his face again. The 
stroke of pathos told upon the congregation, and 
there were who cried aloud : " Good shepherd, 
do not leave us." " Leave us not fatherless." 
" We have sinned against thee, Father, but will 
* Ut supra, Conclave di Paolo V. 


be better children for the future." Such accla 
mations were not unusual in Italian congrega 
tions, and even now are sometimes to be heard. 

As he divined it came to pass. Leo XI. first 
desired him to stay in Rome ; and Paul V. also 
showed him favour. Having so often condemned 
Prelates who dismissed their wives, the churches, 
and yet retained the dowries, he could not con 
sistently retain the archbishopric of Capua, but 
surrendered charge and a great part of the re 
venue to Paul. He received, however, an annuity 
of four thousand crowns, rich compensation 
flowed from other quarters, and he remained a 
pillar of the Roman Church, bearing no small 
weight of responsibility for counsel, while more 
courtly men were employed in diplomacy and 
political administration. 

My leading authority, Fuligatto, is just now 
singularly barren. No small proportion of his 
volume is occupied with details intended to 
illustrate the wisdom and piety of his hero ; but 
some of them are incredible, and most of them 
are trifling. As for his wisdom, it was expended 
in Congregations and in monasteries, the affairs 
of which cannot interest the reader. And as for 
his piety, I shall presently refer to other docu 
ments. Enough to say, that he governed the 
bishopric of Montepulciano, his native place, 
with diligence, although he never visited the 
diocese, but took the office of ecclesiastical 
governor with an understanding that the duties 


of residence and visitation would be devolved 
upon a Vicar. 

In common with other Cardinals he exercised 
rights of patronage. "Among other occupa 
tions undertaken by the Cardinals at Rome, 
that they may assist the Supreme Pontiff in the 
government of the universal Church, are num 
bered patronages ; not only of kingdoms and 
provinces, but also of religious orders. The 
Pope himself distributes prefectures of this kind 
among them. Cardinal Bellarmine had to dis 
charge this function ; and the order of Celes- 
tines, a monastery in the city of Sacred Virgins 
of St. Matthew, and the College of the Germanic 
Nation, were placed under his protection." Pro 
tection, however, and patronage, are merely 
words that cover the idea of supreme govern 
ment. Nominally, supremacy belongs to the 
Pope alone, and to him only it is ever attri 
buted ; but sixty or seventy Cardinals actually 
govern. They are called Patrons or Protectors, 
to save the fundamental doctrine of a monarchy 
that scorns to share its honours with another ; 
and to exalt the personage that would imitate 
Him who is indeed almighty and omnipresent. 

Bellarmine, acting as a lieutenant of the 
Pope, sometimes gave proof of much practical 
wisdom. In his patronage of the Celestines, for 
example, he restored a w y ise provision of the 
founder himself, Celestine V., that although the 
Supreme Abbot was only elected for three years, 
97 i 


he might be re-elected for a similar term. Pope 
John XXII. had abrogated this power of the fra 
ternity, under the idea that ambitious brethren 
would manage to get repeated appointments to 
the exclusion of others. The necessity of chang 
ing the government of the community every 
third year, thus induced, however effectually it 
might frustrate, ambition, and also tended to chill 
the hopes and depress the spirit of the brother 
hood. " It was found by experience that the 
space of three years, when the Abbot was a good 
one, was too small for the continuance and 
establishment of what had been usefully begun." 
He obtained authority from Paul V. for the 
restoration of the primitive licence, and saw it 
twice used with great effect. Both the sexennial 
Abbots took heart, in prospect of lengthened 
occupation, and revived the order in France, 
Belgium, and Italy. The Court of Rome saw 
that in the struggle with Protestantism no ad 
vantage of consolidation and persistency was to 
be lost even to one of the least of their institu 
tions. And this may be recorded, as one of the 
best examples of the wisdom of our Cardinal, 
by whose means the improvement was effected. 


Occasion soon came for giving Bellarmine far 
more important work than the patronage of monk 
eries. His own patron, Paul V., was resolved to 
make such a stand as had not been made since the 



Reformation against anti-Papal doctrines through 
out the world. Everywhere the temporal powers 
resisted him ; but almost everywhere he over 
awed them by some stroke of authority that 
none but himself would have attempted. Princes 
condescended to be absolved and reconciled, after 
having done no more than their duty in object 
ing to his exorbitant assumption of power over 
their subjects by means of canon law. One 
state, however, refused to follow the general 
example of submission. Venice had been sub 
jected, in common with others, to the extortion 
of the priesthood. Delegates from Rome de 
manded power over the Venetians by means of 
the Inquisition and other ecclesiastical courts. 
The Venetian Clergy were required to surrender 
national privileges, and submit to be absorbed 
in the vortex of Roman jurisdiction. The 
Congregation of the Index prohibited, one by 
one, the best books printed in Venice, the sale 
of which constituted a main part of Venetian 
commerce. The printers had put forth their 
utmost energy, and by issuing magnificent Mis 
sals, and other Church-books, were partially 
recovering themselves, when a revision of those 
formularies superseded the existing editions, and 
a prohibition of printing new editions, except in 
Rome, threatened them with ruin. The spirit of 
the Venetians was aroused. Then Rome endea 
voured to encroach on the boundaries and on the 
fisheries of the Republic. The Republic made 
99 i 2 


reprisals. For the sake of self-defence restraint 
was laid upon the rapacity of the Clergy. The 
Senate enacted a law of mortmain to protect fami 
lies from robbery by Confessors who beset the 
death-beds. The civil authorities treated Papal 
decrees and constitutions with just contempt, 
whenever they were contrary to the law of the 
land. Some seditious Monks were imprisoned, 
and the Nuncio in vain demanded their release. 
On the 17th day of April, 1606, to crush the 
temporal power, Paul set the seal of the Fisher 
man, in fury, to an excommunication of the 
Doge and his assessors, and an interdict laid on 
the Republic. It then became necessary to 
justify the Roman aggressions and extortions by 
a plea of Divine right. For doing this Bellarmine 
was best fitted by a concurrence of principle and 
habit ; and him, therefore, the Pontiff set to 
work. It was in a juncture when the excom 
munication was despised and the interdict re 
sisted, and when the Jesuits, as adherents of the 
Pope, were expelled from Venice, that Bellarmine 
again pleaded for Papal supremacy, as coolly as 
if all Europe were content to suffer it. 

This is his doctrine : * Princes have no power 
over Clergymen, who by the testimony of all 
Catholic lawyers, and by the letter of God s law, 
are exempt from earthly jurisdiction. It is 

* Controversial Meinorabilis inter Paulum V. Pontificem 
Max. et Venetor, &c., Acta et Scripta. In Villa Sanvin- 
ccutiana, 1607. An instructive collection. 


manifestly false to say that the Most Christian 
King has power from God over the French, the 
Catholic King over the Spaniards, or the Repub 
lic over the Venetians ; for Sovereigns possess 
their dominion by some human right only, never 
by Divine. The Pope has received from God 
the immediate grant of sovereignty over all 
Christians. Kings may surrender their states, 
because the tenure is only secular ; but the Pope 
cannot surrender a province, a town, nor even 
an individual : for his kingdom, like that of 
Christ, is inalienable and without end. His 
tenure is Divine and eternal. If Princes have 
no power immediately from God over the laity, 
certainly they can have none over the Clergy ; 
nor can they deal with the Clergy as if they 
were subjects either by Divine or human right. 
It is true that every power is of God. Some 
power is immediate, as that of Moses and the 
Pope ; and some is from the people by election, 
or other means. The Clergy, therefore, first 
obey him who has power immediately from God, 
and then they obey such human and secondary 
laws as are not contrary to the Pope s laws. 
But if a Clergyman breaks a human law, no 
human power can justly punish him. Secular 
Princes, it is acknowledged, are called gods of 
the people, but the Priest is god of the Prince. 
Priests may judge Emperors, but an Emperor 
may not judge a Priest. Priests are shepherds, 
and laymen sheep : sheep cannot rule their 


shepherd. " As in a man reason and flesh are 
united, and so make up the man ; even so in 
holy Church there is the ecclesiastical or spiritual 
power, and the secular or temporal, which both 
make up the mystical body of the Church. And 
as in the man reason is superior to flesh, not 
flesh to reason, except when it rebels ; so reason 
leads and governs flesh, and even subdues and 
punishes flesh with fasts and watchings, but flesh 
never guides or punishes reason. Thus is the spirit 
ual power superior to the worldly, and therefore 
both may and can guide, govern, command, and 
punish it, when it does wrong. But the secular 
power, not being superior to the spiritual, can 
not guide or govern it, except de facto, and by 
way of rebellion and tyranny, as heretical Princes 
have sometimes done." Princes are hired ser 
vants of the people, but Priests are ministers of 
God. All persons and all things are theirs. 
Whatever heretics may say, the Church has the 
right to put heretics to death ; for she has two 
swords, temporal and spiritual. In her great 
tenderness she refrains from using the former, 
but requires the temporal power to use it in her 
behalf. From these propositions, and much, 
very much more of the same kind, Bellarmine 
teaches the Venetian Republic how fearfully it 
has offended God by imprisoning those Priests ; 
and at the close of one of his writings he broadly 
hints that the Doge will be worried to death by 
his own subjects, who will act as ministers of 


Divine vengeance. He tells him that he will perish, 
as other tyrants have perished, in punishment of 
resisting Rome, unless he repents and yields. 

The quarrel was compromised at last, leaving 
the Pope conqueror in reality, and in full enjoy 
ment of the benefit of this outrageous theology. 
But outrageous as it was, it was precisely the 
dogma that Rome needed to have established. 
What could be more grateful to the vulgar ear 
than a denial of the Divine right of Kings ? 
What could be more politic for the Papacy than 
to depress royalty to the level of republicanism ? 
Henceforth Roman diplomatists and Priests 
might coolly accommodate themselves to any 
change of government ; or they might aid in 
subverting kingdom, empire, or commonwealth ; 
or become accomplices with any despot, or with 
any demagogue in tearing up ancient landmarks. 
They were not to be respected, because they 
were but accidental, only the effect of some com 
pact or of some capitulation. The Church could 
sit calmly amidst revolutions of her own crea 
tion, and obtain from the dominant faction, or 
the de facto government, the price of her com 
plicity. Under this theory, and with the prac 
tice corresponding, especially as seen in Europe 
within the last five years, there is nothing in the 
world sacred, and nothing safe : there was not a 
sentiment conveyed in the controversy with the 
Venetians that Jiad not been published long 
before, iu his treatise De Ponfffice Romano. Yet 



this was one of the confidential correspondents 
of James I. of England ; for a statement of 
Bellarmine himself in his answer to " the triple 
knot" of that King is amply corroborated by 
other evidence. The Cardinal, speaking in the 
third person, says, that " the King had written 
to the Pope himself, as well as to the Cardinals 
Aldobrandini and Bellarmino, letters full of 
civility, in which, besides other things, he de 
sired that some one of the Scots should be 
created Cardinal of the holy Roman Church, in 
order that he might have some one at Rome by 
whom to transact business with the Pope more 
easily." But afterwards, about the time of the 
Gunpowder Plot, King James performed the part 
of a zealous Protestant, either through fear of 
the Jesuits, or for the sake of keeping up his 
character in England ; and then he wrote a book 
against the Pope and Bellarmine. The coolness 
of the latter enabled him to appear much better 
on paper than his royal antagonist. An inci 
dental specimen of his coolness appears in a 
letter from his hand, which I find in manuscript 
in the British Museum, and translate underneath. 
It is addressed to the Cardinal D Este,* and 

* " My most Illustrious, most Reverend, and most 
Respected Lord, It having pleased the King of England 
to write a book against the holy Catholic faith, and against 
my person, I have thought it necessary to answer him to 
defend the holy faith, and myself also. However, I send 
you the enclosed copy, hoping that you may be willing to 


would suggest even to a reader, uninformed of 
the constant usage, that all these controversial 
productions underwent censorship, and there 
fore expressed authentically the mind of the 
Court of Rome. 

Tyrannicide, as the phrase went, that is to 
say, the killing of Kings, was openly advocated 
by Jesuits, and defended at Rome. When Jean 
Chastel, a student of the Jesuit College in Paris, 
attempted to assassinate Henry III., and the 
Court of Parliament proceeded against the 
criminal, their act was censured at Rome.* 
The Spanish Jesuit, Mariana, wrote a treatise f 
tending to establish the same horrid doctrine ; 
and Bellarmine, in answer to a work of an 
Englishman, George Barclay, maintained the 
same. This work, which is a fair exposition of 
Roman doctrine, may be found in its place. J It 
exhibits an array of sentences confirmatory from 
"illustrious writers" of Italy, France, Spain, 

see and read it. Praying that you may enjoy the next 
Christmas festivities, and not having to give you any 
further trouble with letters of this kind, I commend my 
self to you in yratiam. From Rome, November llth, 
1609. Of your most Illustrious and most Reverend, the 
most humble and devoted servant, 

(Additional MSS. from 1782 to 1835 in British Museum. 
Eg. 44.) 

* Le Tocsin, Paris, 1610. 

t De Rege, et Regis Institutione. 

Seventh volume of Bellarmine s \Vorks. Cologne, 



Germany, England, and Scotland, with sentences 
of Councils. The alleged prerogative of the 
Supreme Pontiff, and the duty of the people in 
regard to heretical Princes, are laid down under 
great variety of argument, precedent, and figure. 
The conclusions are such as these : 

Princes, in these latter times, may be deprived 
of their princedom without any detriment of the 
people, and without any injustice, by authority 
of the Church. 

Kings are the rams of the flock. If the rams 
injure the sheep with their horns, they must be 
put away from the flock by the shepherd. The 
Pope is the universal shepherd ; and if Kings 
tyrannise over the people, he has the right to 
put them out of the way, and is under the obli 
gation so to do. However, as he does not use 
the sword himself, he must necessarily call on 
armies, magistrates, or people, to employ such 
means as may effect the purpose. 

Heretical Kings are wolves that destroy the 
flock. The good shepherd will drive away the 
wolf; (and elsewhere Bellarmine has said that 
wolves are to be killed ;) and even so the Pope, 
supreme power on earth, and universal shepherd, 
should require the services of all who can render 
it, to drive those wolves away. 

These books not only made great stir in Venice 

and England, but wrought powerfully in France 

among the Clergy and on the least worthy part 

of the laity, as appeared May 13th, 1610, when 



Ravaillac stabbed Henry IV., who fell mortally 
wounded ; and it became evident that the fol 
lowers of Mariana and Bellarmine, with all the 
vassals of the Roman Court, deemed that act to 
be heroic and meritorious. On the l()th of 
June the Parisian Parliament ordered the book 
of Mariana to be burnt before Notre Dame ; but, 
unhappily for France, the deceased King, blind 
to the fact that- the Jesuits, the Romans, and 
the Spaniards were combined to overturn his 
throne, had patronised the Jesuits, and made 
one of them tutor of his son. They had, there 
fore, sufficient influence at Court and in Parlia 
ment to shield their order, and suppress in the 
Arret of Parliament the designation of Mariana 
as a Priest of the Society of Jesus. 

Still the Jesuits were accused of being acces 
sory at least by consequence of their teaching 
to the murder of the King, and a day was 
appointed for their cause to be pleaded at the 
palace. The Itectors and Doctors of the Sor- 
bonne came in a body to the widowed Queen, 
ready to establish their complaint ; but the 
Jesuits had succeeded in persuading Her Majesty 
to merge the duties of a Queen and the affec 
tions of a widow in the submission of a devotee ; 
and she dismissed her most faithful subjects with 
an injunction to cease their pleading. The 
Sorbonne obeyed ; but the same day the public 
prosecutor demanded judgment of the Parliament 
against Bellarmine s answer to Barclay, and on 


that day week an order was issued forbidding 
" all persons under penalty of treason to receive, 
retain, circulate, print, cause to be printed, or 
expose to sale the said book, tending to the over 
throw of sovereign powers ordained and estab 
lished by God, to the revolt of subjects against 
their Prince, to the withdrawal of their obedi 
ence ; inducing them to make attempts against 
their persons and estates, and to disturb public 
quiet and tranquillity."* 

Thus did that court fulfil its duty, refraining 
only from ordering Bellarmine s book to be 
burnt, in consideration of his rank as Cardinal, 
and of the Queen s love of the Jesuits. But their 
loyalty was displayed in vain. The Nuncio hurried 
away in anger to the palace, and threatened that, 
unless the Queen made reparation, he would no 
longer stay in France. She was alarmed, sum 
moned the Parliament into her presence, and 
demanded the reason of their proceeding. They 
gave it with great firmness. The first President 
represented that she and her son, now King, 
were brought under subjection to the Pope, and 
in danger of being deposed whenever it should 
please him. Bellarmine, they said, at a time 
when the Pope ought to have sent her a letter of 
condolence and consolation in her sorrow, had 
published that book in France, and so thrown a 
firebrand of sedition among her people. Her 
husband, they believed, would have gone to 

* Extraict des Registres de Tarlement. 


Rome and demanded the person of the author. 
But Henry Mas murdered now, and the book was 
a canonisation of Ravaillac his murderer, and 
an authentication of the crime. " Madam/ he 
added, "we have found the sword drawn against 
you and your state : we had been traitors to you 
and to our places, if we had not raised our arms 
to parry the blow." She could not reprove the 
Parliament, but she bade them suspend the 
execution of their order for the present. Mean 
while the Nuncio persisted in his complaint. 
The Jesuits gave her no rest. Bellarmine, on 
hearing what had happened, wrote a letter to 
defend his doctrine, protesting that he only 
meant it to be applied for the deposition of 
Princes that were heretics, as in England, and 
assured Her Majesty of his good intentions. The 
Queen professed herself well satisfied, all oppo 
sition was turned aside, and the King-killing 
doctrine was propagated without restraint.* The 
Tocsin, a publication that its authors were com 
pelled to issue anonymously, at a time when it 
was dangerous to be a patriot, was suppressed, 
and gathered up with such religious diligence 
that even the British Ambassador at Paris could 
not obtain a copy. One copy, at any rate, is 
preserved, and it has afforded me a reference on 
a preceding page. 

* Winwood s Memorials, vol. iii., pp. 231-233, 234- 
210,241. Cretineau-Joly, Histoire de la Compagnie de 
Jesus, tome iii., chap. 3. Fuligatti Vit. Bel., lib. ii.,cap. 7. 
109 K 


The general reader must here be cautioned 
against the artfulness of some writers and the 
simplicity of others, who would cover the guilt 
of partisans in those days with the cloak of mis 
representation, or the mantle of a blind charity. 

Cretineau-Joly, for example, says that our 
Cardinal wrote to Arch-Priest Blackwell, in Eng 
land, blaming the proceedings of the Romanists 
here. He wrote, indeed, to Blackwell ; but what 
did he say ? His letter, written not long after 
the Gunpowder Treason, contains an assertion, 
anything but true, that no Pope had ever 
killed any King, or approved of any such mur 
der, and treats the fear of danger to the life of 
James I. as idle. But the writer says nothing 
condemnatory of the conduct of the traitors of 
the 5th of November. On the contrary, he 
censures Blackwell most severely for taking an 
oath of allegiance, which he calls unlawful. 
" Neither, dearest brother, could that oath be 
come lawful by being presented to you in any 
way tempered or modified. For you know that 
such modifications are nothing else than snares 

and tricks of Satan For it is certain that in 

whatsoever words an oath may be framed by the 
adversaries of the faith in that kingdom, it can 
only tend to transfer the authority of the Head 
of the Church from the successor of St. Peter to 
the successor of Henry VIII. in England." And 
as by taking an oath of allegiance to his rightful 
Sovereign he has fallen like St. Peter and St. Mar- 


ct lliuus, lie entreats him, in the Lord s name, to 
repent like them, and renounce that allegiance ; 
thus returning to the path of truth and virtue. 
He endeavours to stimulate the Arch-Priest to lead 
all the Romanists in England to withdraw their 
allegiance from the King, against whose life, as 
he well knows, enemies are plotting, both at 
home and abroad. And he tries to stir them up 
to sedition by arguments from Gregory the 
Great, St. Leo, and the Jesuit Sanders ; and by 
the examples of the Bishop of Rochester and Sir 
Thomas More. " For the sake of that single 
and most weighty article of doctrine alone " (the 
dominion of the Pope over the King) " they were 
leaders unto martyrdom of very many others." A 
clear confession that the Romanists who suffered 
in the reign of Queen Elizabeth were not 
punished for any other article of their "reli 
gion" than that which led them to sedition and 
to regicide. And we must not attribute zeal for 
this article of doctrine to the Jesuits alone, inas 
much as Paul V., following the traditions of his 
fathers, announced the same repeatedly, and 
especially in a Brief published more than five 
weeks before the famous letter of the Cardinal.* 
* The Bull was dated August 21st, and the letter Sep 
tember 28th, 1607. The letter was intercepted, and forth 
with printed by authority, with a " Large Examination 
taken at Lambeth, according to His Majesty s direction, 
point by point, of M. George Blackwell, made Arch-Priest 
of England, by Pope Clement VIII., &c., &c., &c. London, 
1007. Barker." 

Ill K 2 


It is therefore evident that Bellarmine, far from 
condemning treason, inculcated most earnestly 
the doctrine hy which treason is a virtue ; and 
having no official reason for writing to the less 
disloyal Arch-Priest of England, went out of his 
way to do so, just on the strength of having 
known him more than forty years before. 

His blessing or his curse was always ready to 
be addressed to the friends of his Church and 
order, or to their foes. While prosecuting, with 
unflinching perseverance, the ruin of every Pro 
testant Sovereign, and of every untractable state, 
he repaid subservient Princes with his best 
offices. For example : The crown of Bohemia, 
being elective, was to be set on the head of a new 
ruler ; and as the doctrines of the Reformation 
had gained ascendency in the land of Huss, until 
the Jesuits succeeded in bringing round what is 
called a counter-Reformation, our Cardinal and 
his Company set their heart on bestowing that 
kingdom on the King of Hungary. Although 
not Superior of Jesuits in Bohemia, or anywhere 
else, Bellarmine kept up correspondence with the 
Society in that country, carried their letters into 
the Pope s closet,* and, being assured that Mat 
thias would raise them up into power, and spare 
no means to slaughter his subjects of the Reform 
ation, engaged the highest interest that the 
Popedom could afford to dethrone his brother 
Rudolf, the tolerant Emperor, and obtain the 

* \Vin\vood, vol. iii., p. 270. 


election of Matthias to be King of Bohemia, 
King of the Romans, and then Emperor in his 
stead. Matthias promised the Bohemians tolera 
tion, to obtain their votes, and offered the Jesuits 
patronage for the same reason ; and having, by 
assistance of the latter, gained his point, he 
let them loose upon the others. To the conscience 
of Bellarmine, this management was all " for the 
greater glory of God." 


This Cardinal theologist had a vast advantage 
in the propagation of doctrine, inasmuch as he 
was also an Inquisitor. And, although the 
Inquisition had not a tribunal in France, it had 
agencies and power there, as it has in every 
country where the Church possesses influence, 
either direct or indirect. Take a proof. 

During the outburst of indignation in France 
on the proclamation of death to heretical Kings 
in the answer to Barclay, arid after the execution 
of death on King Henry IV., who, having sought 
peace with Rome by apostasy, fell by the dagger 
of a Jesuitised assassin, the Parisian preachers 
were divided. Many passed over the subject in 
silence. A few lauded the Society of Jesus. 
Some dared to speak the truth, but with various 
degrees of hesitation or of liberty. One honest 
Frenchman, an Abbe de Bois, "a man very 
famous for his gallant preaching, and for his 
knowledge in matters of the world," preached 
113 K 3 


freely in one of the largest churches in Paris, 
hoth against the Pope s assumption of temporal 
power, and against the practices of the Jesuits. 
The Jesuits, however, being supported by the 
Nuncio, compelled, or persuaded, him to make 
in private a kind of recantation ; and, as he 
abstained from any further animadversions on 
their doctrine or conduct, he might have thought 
himself at peace. But not so. He happened to 
be the Queen s almoner, and, by some allure 
ments of the Nuncio, was induced to go to 
Rome, with a commission from Her Majesty. 
No sooner did the Abbe come within the juris 
diction of Bellarmine, whom shame never could 
restrain when he felt the impulse of bigotry, or 
was bidden by his General, than he was con 
victed of heresy, and thrown into the Inquisi 
tion.* The act exceedingly offended "all the 
world " in Paris, and especially the Clergy ; but 
the force of public opinion could not be felt by 
Inquisitors at Rome. 

About this very time (A.D. 1611) Galileo first 
appeared as a culprit in the presence of Bellar 
mine. The Jesuits, more earnestly than many, 
had taught the physics of Aristotle, as well as 
his philosophy. Aristotle knew nothing of the 
system conjectured by Copernicus, and by others 
before him, and even propounded by that learned 
German in Rome less than a century past. 
Therefore the Aristotelians, and most especially 

* Winwood, vol. iii., pp. 307, 308. 


the Jesuits, abhorred the notion of the revolu 
tion of the earth ; and, although the book of 
Copernicus, " De Revolutionibus," did not ap 
pear in the Index of prohibited books, it was in 
all probability suppressed. Bellarmine had once 
taught the immobility of the earth to his hearers 
at Lonvain ; and now Galileo, the Tuscan inno 
vator, was to be put to silence. Provincial 
censors denounced his theory as absurd and false 
in philosophy, and expressly contrary to holy 
Scripture, and therefore heretical. The case was 
laid before the Congregation of the Holy Office, 
who caused it to be examined by theologians ; 
the theologians in their wisdom confirmed the 
hard sentence of the Florentines, and Galileo 
was commanded to appear at Rome. He dared 
to go ; or perhaps it would be more correct to 
say, that he durst not attempt to flee. He was 
brought into the Minerva, and found Inquisitor 
Bellarmine there, seated as his judge. He might 
have pleaded that, under apostolic licence, the 
same theory had already been propounded in a 
book printed in the eternal city ; but no argu 
ment could avail, and the Cardinal gave him his 
choice to be shut up in a dungeon in that fear 
ful palace, or to make a promise never to teach 
the revolution of the earth again by word or 
writing.* Not to ignorance, but to impatience 
of contradiction, must be attributed the sentence. 
t have no means of estimating the extent of 
Bellarmiue s labours in the Inquisition, but find 

* Botta, Storia d Italia, lib. xxi. 


that instructions were then issued for levying 
charges on victims for each act of accusation, 
for each witness in accusation or defence, for 
clerks, for familiars, for tormentors, for jailors ; 
so much for the sentence, and so much for the 
stake.* The precision of these arrangements, 
and the regard paid to the dignity of the Supe 
riors and the compensation of the suhordinates, 
indicate the same hand that prescribed capitular 
and monastic reformation in the archdiocese of 
Capua, and sustained so exact discipline in the 
Roman College. At least, it is unquestionable 
that the same hand gave the sanction and en 
forced the execution. The same hand, also, 
wrote some pieces of mystic devotion, which 
were done into English by clerical admirers in 
this country, and circulated among the simple 
folk, with prefaces laudatory of the pious and 
learned Cardinal. The translators might have 
been far more usefully employed. 


Perhaps no one would have made a better 
Pope than Bellarmine. That he was not with 
out hope of attaining to the supremacy is appa 
rent from a paper once written by himself, when 
secluded for " spiritual exercises," as they were 
called. It is very short, and shall be translated 
entire, thus : 

"Wednesday, September 26th, 1GU. Being 

* Instructions for the Vicars of the Holy Inquisition. 
Moclcua, 1608. 


in the House for Novices, St. Andrew s, occupied 
in spiritual exercises, and after mature delibera 
tion, at the sacrifice of the mass, when I was 
about to receive the most holy body of our Lord, 
I vowed a vow to the Lord, in this form : I, Ro 
bert, Cardinal Bellarmine, of the Society of Jesus, 
a Religious professed, vow to Almighty God, in 
the presence of the blessed Virgin Mary, and of 
all the court of heaven, that if haply (which I do 
not wish, and pray God may not come to pass) I 
be advanced to the Pontificate, I will not exalt 
any of my relatives, by blood or by affinity, to the 
Cardinalate, or to be temporal Prince, or Duke, or 
Count, or to have any other title ; neither will I 
make them rich, but will only help them to live 
comfortably in their civil state. Amen. Amen." 
That is to say, he vowed that he would still be a 
Jesuit, and would enforce the same artificial 
humility upon his relatives. This is all. The 
spiritual exercises of that month did not pro 
duce any grand purpose for the reformation of 
the Clergy, nor any fervent resolution to pro 
mote the glory of Christ. 

Again was manifested a marvellous faculty of 
prevision. But four months after these very 
pious resolutions, the throne was vacated by the 
unexpected demise of Paul V. So vigorous was 
his constitution, that he seemed likely to bury 
all the elder Cardinals, when the stroke of death 
fell on him, and, after three days suffering, he 
breathed his last on the 28th of January, 1615. 


The Roman population abandoned themselves to 
the irregularities that are repeated on such occa 
sions, and every appearance of good order and 
morality vanished both in town and country. 
" Highnesses, adored and idolised by courtly 
flattery, were suddenly laid low, and covered 
with confusion. He that had shown a spirit of 
lordliness and pride, contending for the highest 
station, found himself humbled in the first days 
of that interregnum. Then he might be seen 
bowing, and paying low obeisance to the man 
that he had despised but a few days before. 
Then the ancient magistrate laid aside his pomp, 
and another, that was thought quite unequal to 
open or to close the ascent to the sublime region 
of the Pontificate, took courage, and carried 
himself sternly towards persons with whom he 
Lad been formerly courteous and obliging. The 
authority of the tribunals ceased, and every one 
was free to speak and write at pleasure, and say 
things openly that a moment before he would 
have kept hidden in the silence of his own 
thoughts." * The tumults of the city were such 
as ever had been when the reins of Papal autho 
rity were snapped ; but each Conclave has had a 
history of its own, and anonymous conclavists 
have divulged several. When fifty Cardinals 
went in procession to the Vatican, they resolved 
themselves into factions, domestic and political, 
and, before the solemn closing of the doors, the 

* Conclavi de Pontifici Romani. Greg. XV. 



Ambassadors of all the foreign courts were 
closeted with their adherents, and labouring to 
exclude all Cardinals obnoxious to their masters, 
but leaving the field open to the rest. The first 
night of their entrance into the Vatican was 
nearly all spent in this way. As for Bellarmine, 
it was not his manner to hold much intercourse 
with Princes : therefore, he quietly crept into 
his cell, and went to sleep. In the dead of the 
night Cardinal Borghese ran to solicit his vote 
for a member of his faction ; but he coldly bade 
him wait until the morning, when they might all 
say mass, according to the rules, and pray for 
inspiration to elect a fit person. Again, before 
break of day, taking other Cardinals with him, he 
bolted into the cell, awoke him, and asked his vote. 
" This is not an hour," said he snappishly, " to 
make the Pope. These are works of darkness : 
pray let me rest." Borghese begged his pardon, 
but entreated him to say what he meant to do. "I 
can tell you nothing now," replied Bellarmine, 
most angrily : " I want to sleep. If you want to 
know anything, the chamber of Ubaldino is near : 
go there, and let me sleep." Thus did he spare 
himself the trouble of leading a party, or the in 
dignity of serving one, receiving applications from 
hostile candidates, or their agents, but not giving 
his interest to any, and also receiving, as before, 
the first votes of the undecided, who meant to 
transfer them, in due time, to some one concern 
ing whom they might agree. With this tacit 


understanding he had more votes than any one 
else, again, at the first scrutiny, but not one 
afterwards. At length Cardinal Alessandro 
Ludovisio, transformed into Gregory XV., re 
ceived the adoration of the Conclave,* and Bel- 
larmine came out with the others, never more to 
take part in a similar transaction. 


Neither did he appear very conspicuously in 
public affairs during the remainder of his life. 
Here, therefore, we may review his religious 
character, as it is depicted by his friends. They 
say, that he was exceedingly affable and cour 
teous to all who came near him, and so humble 
in demeanour, that unless they had remembered 
him to be a Cardinal, nothing in his manner 
would remind them of it. To Jesuits he always 
showed the greatest kindness, calling them his 
brethren, sons of his mother, the Society. And 
to the Superiors of the Society he paid as much 
reverence as if he had been a junior under their 
direction. So strong was his attachment to the 
Roman College, that he would fain have dwelt 
within its walls, if such an arrangement had 
been compatible with the discipline of the place. 
But he lived near, and, still not content, endea 
voured to make a subterranean passage whereby 
to gain access to his brethren secretly ; but the 
difficulty of excavation, or some other obstacle, 

* Conclavi de Pontifici Romani. Greg. XV. 



prevented the fulfilment of his purpose. Then 
lie solaced himself with listening to the sound of 
the bells, and by them regulated his hours of 
devotion, both by day and night. And through 
out his life he observed minutely the laws and 
customs of the Society. Every year, as we have 
already noted, he withdrew, by permission of the 
Pope, to the House of Novices at St. Andrew s, 
for the performance of spiritual exercises. If 
any of the Novices were sick, he paid them fre 
quent visits, entertained them with pious conversa 
tion, or of that kind, at least, which they deemed 
pious, and sprinkled them, if the sickness was 
severe, with holy water. 

At those times he most carefully avoided even 
the slightest indulgence. He would not even 
walk in the garden, nor allow himself relaxation 
for a moment. If he wished a book, he would 
not suffer any one to bring it from the common 
library ; but went thither in person, carrying an 
inkstand and pen-case to make extracts, much to 
the admiration of the young students, who had 
never seen a Cardinal condescend to mingle with 
inferior company. He would only eat the plain 
est food, at any time ; for he thought that the 
use of food did not consist in the delectation of 
the palate, but in the supply of nourishment. 

When he needed the services of the domestic 

barber, he would not send for the man, but went 

down into his cell, " descending by all the steps 

of humility," in order that he might lose his 

121 L 


hair more happily than Samson, and, by the 
loss, increase his virtue. Comforts he eschewed, 
and barely tolerated necessaries. He always 
added a higher degree of rigour to the " custom 
ary severities of a religious life." Sometimes, 
after recovering from sickness, his upper servants 
would entreat him to allow himself to be carried 
in a sedan chair ; but, although so feeble as to 
be scarcely able to walk, he would not submit to 
such a luxury. Other Cardinals were so carried ; 
but if the physicians would not allow him to go 
out, except in that way, he remained in his chamber, 
in preference to departing from his resolution. 

Twenty-two years elapsed from his creation as 
Cardinal to his decease. But he wore the same 
purple that was given him by Clement VIII. , 
and no consideration could induce him to put on 
a new gown. When the sleeves were worn off 
his arms, he would have new ones attached to 
the old garment, for so much was necessary, but 
no more. An under garment, worn with the 
attrition of many years, he would never put off, 
and, on his death, it was found on his body, 
patched with coarse rags. He did not allow 
himself enough even of this most sordid clothing. 
In winter, when suffering from the cold, he 
would rather go shivering in wind and rain, than 
wear a cloak, and refused to wear gloves, until 
his hands became so swollen and chopped, that 
their exposure would have been offensive to 
others. In the winter months he rose long 


before day, and lit his lamp ; but no fire cheered 
his room until the hour of audience, when it was 
lit for the sake of the visiters. The General, 
Claudio Aquaviva, advised him to have a fire on 
his hearth in the coldest part of the season ; but 
he had read in the life of the most holy Pontiff, 
Pius V., that that saint had done without fire, 
and therefore he wished to follow the high 
example. He might have added, that Pius V. 
reserved his fire for the heretics ; and in that, 
also, he was willing to emulate, if he could not 
equal. After visiters had withdrawn, he was 
used to take off the burning coals, and so reduce 
the temperature of the apartment. 

On Mondays he ate eggs only. On Wed 
nesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, in Lent, in. 
Advent, and on the profestal days, or days which 
preceded the feasts of saints, he fasted until 
night. In the latter years of his life, his Con 
fessor compelled him to dimmish the fasts a 
little ; but still he fasted, like the ancient Phari 
sees, thrice in the week. In this abstinence he 
persisted to the last ; and, although he often lay 
awake whole nights for want of food, on the 
evening of a fast-day he would only take one 
smallish piece of bread, dipped in wine, and 
then drink once. He never seemed pleased with 
a dish well cooked ; but rather preferred meat 
ill-dressed or ill-flavoured, a meal that would 
sustain nature without gratifying taste. He 
drank at meals only, and would never drink 
123 L 2 


merely to quench thirst, neither would he eat 
fruit for that purpose. In the heat of summer 
he would not refresh himself by washing in cold 
water ; and persevered through six months, 
towards the close of his life, refusing to assuage 
the heat of a fever by a draught of water. It 
behoved him, he said, to imitate thirsting mar 
tyrs, who most resembled, by the copious 
shedding of their blood, our Lord Jesus Christ 
when on the cross athirst. 

Still Bellarmine thought that he had not filled 
up the measure of his vows, and, by severer 
mortification, strove yet more perfectly to subdue 
the flesh, and imitate saints who had inflicted 
the severest suffering on themselves. In this 
hope, he began to feed on herbs and pulse only ; 
but that crude diet made him sick, and the 
physicians compelled him to desist. Often did 
he scourge himself in secret, and afflict himself 
with sackcloth, in hope of pleasing angels and 
God. So long as his mind revolted from any 
thing unpleasant, he thought that the flesh was 
not yet subject to the spirit. To subdue the 
spirit, he ate things that would make other 
stomachs nauseate. He had corns, and, although 
he could scarcely bear to walk, would not have 
them cut ; for others, he said, who tasted the 
bitter pains of purgatory and of hell, were 
suffering more. 

As he endured cold, so did he expose himself 
to heat. When the sun blazed into his chamber 


in the hottest days of summer, he would not 
exclude the beams, but sat there, covered with 
perspiration and oppressed with languor, writing, 
for hours together, with as much apparent tran 
quillity as if he had been shaded in the most 
delicious bower. His servants, unable to enter 
the oven-like apartment, flung themselves to rest 
in some sheltered place. He, on the contrary, 
used to sit in such positions like a statue ; and 
while gnats, or other insects, lighted on him, he 
sustained their stings without once making a 
wry face, but welcomed them as messengers 
from God to try his patience. He moved not a 
hand, nor would he suffer any one by any 
means to disturb the flies that sported on his 
head and face ; saying, " with a sweet voice," 
that those little animals had no other paradise 
than liberty in flight, and power of lighting on 
the spot that pleased them. Or he would more 
gravely substitute profanity for wit, and say, " I 
was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because 
Thou didst it." The bystanders, of course, were 
edified by that sublime piety, and forgot the 
imprisoned heretics, whose only paradise was a 
good conscience. 

To this wondrous patience and humility he 
added a multitude of devotions, and was reputed 
to be, eminently, a man of prayer. Besides the 
prayers which all Priests are required to recite, 
he added every day two offices, that of the 
blessed Virgin, and that of the dead. At mid- 
125 L 3 


day, after dinner, not indulging in conversation, 
it was his custom to leave the table, walk to and 
fro alone, with head uncovered, and say a rosary 
of the Virgin, " and another crown of Christ 
the Saviour." Early in the morning, after an 
hour s prayer, he spent another hour on his 
knees in meditation. Thence proceeding to the 
altar, he performed mass after the most approved 
manner. Not only in Rome, but in London, he 
passed for a great saint ; and our King James, 
while he wrote against his book, " De Potestate," 
read, with admiration, the tract, " De Gemitu 
Columbse." His voluntary humility and childish 
mysticism wrought upon weak minds that his 
politics and polemics had irritated ; and this 
kind of blind acceptance procured him too great 
a name. Among the books of devotion which 
he used, we find not the divine hymns of the 
Old Testament, nor the life-giving words of our 
Lord and Saviour in the New. And if ever the 
example of Him in whose steps the Christian 
ought to follow appeared among the examples of 
Popes, Prelates, and Monks, it was only in some 
small particular of circumstance, or in some dis 
play of divine or magisterial authority, which, 
therefore, was not to be imitated by any mortal. 
Thus, in visiting his province of Capua, the 
Archbishop sent two Jesuits before him to an 
nounce his approach, in imitation of Jesus, who 
sent two of His disciples. Not even in those 
favourite virtues of humility and poverty did he 


imitate the Lamb of God so much as a favourite 
saint. Certainly, as an Inquisitor, he did Dot 
imitate Him who came to save men s lives, and 
not to destroy them. When aiming at the most 
perfect exercise of devotion, he displayed an 
arrogance that we cannot observe without dis 
gust : for, in going into his annual retreat, he 
chose the month of September, because in that 
month only the High-Priest went into the holy 
of holies. Any but a spirit the most intensely 
proud would have shrunk from the comparison 
implied in that arrangement. But he dwelt on 
it, doubtless, with complacency. And, as an 
ascetic, his practice, together with his doctrine, 
was as much opposed to Christianity as is the 
kindred system of Buddhism in the East. And yet 
Bellarmine is, by some persons, extolled as a mirror 
of piety! If he was, his admirers must confess 
that Simon the Stylite was a yet brighter mirror. 


Life and health were both declining when he 
came out of the last Conclave. His petulance 
and inaction there had indicated indisposition to 
mingle in the stir of court ; and frequent attacks 
of sickness, with great weakness consequent, 
must have admonished him that his race was 
nearly run. Then he redoubled his efforts to 
save himself from eternal pains, and thought 
that salvation could be wrought out by temporal 
suffering. For conscience sake he ate herbs, 


endeavouring to please God by an imitation of 
the Therapeutae, of whom he had read in the 
course of his patristic studies, and whom the 
eastern Monks had followed. He thought ordi 
nary prayers and the penances prescribed insuf 
ficient for salvation, and therefore added more. 
He exhibited a puerility of artificial patience that 
betokened, at the same time, a clamorous con 
science and a weakened mind. Few spectacles 
can be more affecting than that of so eminent a 
man struggling for peace in his latter days ; and 
we shall do well to wait at his bed-side, and 
observe how he passes through the valley of the 
shadow of death. Our witness is one of his own 
Society, who saw him there, and whose admiration 
of his character, and zeal for the honour of the 
order, leads him to paint a highly-coloured 
picture ; but we will take it as we find it, and 
not even conjecture what darker touches might 
have been added by an impartial hand.* 

A consciousness of approaching death impelled 
him, in the year 1621, to make earnest suit to 
Gregory XV. to be released from Court, Con 
sistories, and Congregations, and from all offices, 
with permission to retire altogether to his accus 
tomed place of retreat, the Jesuit Novitiate. He 
therefore dismissed the greatest part of his 
family, allowing them, however, to remain in his 

* A True Relation of the last Sickness and Death of 
Cardinal Bellariuine. By C. E., [Coffin,] of the Society of 
Jesus. Permissu superiorum, M.DC.XX1I. 


palace until they could be placed elsewhere. The 
25th of August, which is in Rome sacred to St. 
Bartholomew, he observed with great solemnity, 
that day being also the anniversary of the 
" slaughter of the Huguenots " in Paris. But 
one business of great moment yet remained in 
the Congregation of the Index, which much 
required his presence for dispatch. There, on 
the 28th day of the month, he joined the Car 
dinals ; and, the business being finished, he took 
his leave of all the Congregation, and went into 
the Novitiate. 

That very night he was taken sick, and went 
to bed. There he lay with great patience, re 
peating prayers on his rosary, or. crossing his 
arms upon his breast. The physicians advised 
him to take the sacrament of the altar, and he, 
in turn, desired them to tell him his condition. 
They did so ; and he assured them that he had 
no fear, but rather a wish to die. On the fourth 
day of his sickness the doctors consulted whether 
or not it was expedient that he should receive 
" the blessed sacrament of the altar by way of 
viaticum," and agreed that it was not expedient 
to give it him in that manner, because he might 
continue many days, but only by way of ordinary 

" Upon this warning given," says Coffin, " he 
prepared himself to confession, and in such man 
ner as if that confession were to be the last that 
ever he should make in this life ; and such was 


the innocency of the man, that albeit he were in 
his perfect sense, yet could he hardly find what 
to confess ; insomuch as his ghostly Father was 
in some perplexity, as wanting matter of absolu 
tion, till by recourse to his past life he found 
some small defects of which he absolved him : 
and when the blessed sacrament was brought, he 
would needs rise to receive it, as he did, and 
prostrated himself on the ground, to the great 
edification and amazement of all the beholders." 

" Such was the innocency of the man !" Ay ; 
such was his self-satisfaction. No misgiving as 
to the tendency of his teaching troubled him. 
No doubt as to the lawfulness of the rebellions 
and civil wars that he had promoted. Two of 
his disciples had assassinated two Kings in 
France ; but he did not hear the voice of their 
blood crying from the ground. Victim after 
victim had he seen bound weeping racked 
burning ; but no image of anguish or death came 
before his eyes. Prayers from the Syrians of 
India remonstrances from invaded churches 
groans from the pits of the Minerva depreca 
tions of the dying curses of the living 
troubled him not while searching his memory 
for sin, just for something to be pardoned. 
Neither cruel deaths nor treasons were sins to 
his apprehension, if only the victims were here 
tics. He said that he had no sin. He was a 
liar, therefore, and the truth was not in him. 

With the same fixedness of will that was wont 


to triumph in its power over the reluctant or the 
fainting flesh, he persevered in mechanical devo 
tion on the rosary ; but the physicians required 
him to pause after each ten beads, lest the inces 
sant recitation should hurt his head. This trou 
bled him, and he gave utterance to his disquiet 
thus : " Methinks I am become a secular man, and 
am no more religious ; for I neither say office nor 
mass. I make no prayers, I do no good at all 

On the fifth day of his sickness, the Pope 
came to see him ; and as Gregory entered the 
chamber as if it had been the Lord himself 
Bellarmine saluted him with this sentence : Non 
sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum. " I am 
not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my 
roof." The Pope gave him words of great kind 
ness, and after he had withdrawn, the Cardinal 
said to a Jesuit present, Father Minutoli, " Now 
truly do I well hope that I shall die ; for the 
Popes are never known to have visited Cardinals 
but when they were in danger of death, or rather 
past all hope of life ; to which effect he alleged 
divers examples." And then, his apprehension 
of death being quickened by the portentous inci 
dent of a Papal visit, he proceeded to describe the 
state of his conscience, in the words following : 

" Now nothing troubles my conscience, for 
God (His goodness still be thanked therefore) 
hath so preserved me hitherto, as that I do not 
remember in the whole course of my life to have 
committed any scandalous action, which perhaps, 


if I should live longer, may befall me : for weak 
ness of body draws oftentimes with it weakness 
of mind, by which good men may be seen to 
have relented from their former vigour and 
virtue." And here I cannot but observe that a 
saying attributed to Bellarmine at this time, does 
not appear in any narrative that I have met 
with. The tale is that when he was asked, 
"Unto which of the saints wilt thou turn?" 
he answered, Fidere meritis Christi tutissimum : 
"It is safest to trust in the merits of Christ." 
The question was not likely to be put by any of 
his visiters ; for it is precisely such an one as 
would have come from the lips of a Protestant. 
And even if he had used the words attributed to 
him, they would have been but consistent with 
the notions of a Jesuit who preferred the tutelage 
of Jesus. The story has been repeated by Pro 
testants as exhibiting the concession of an adver 
sary ; but it is also repeated to sustain the conclu 
sion that, in the judgment of charity, such persons 
may be saved. As for the person before us, there 
is no evidence that he had the faintest idea of trust 
in Christ alone as the Saviour of sinners. 

When it was agreed that some one should 
announce to him that he was near his end, 
Muzio Vitellschi, the General, gave him the intel 
ligence ; and on hearing it he exclaimed, " Good 
news ! good news ! what good news is this !" 
And then to which of the saints did he turn. 
Let us hear from Father Coffin. "After this 


he caused one to read unto him the death of St. 
Charles Borromeo ; as desirous in his own to 
imitate it ; which being ended, he desired to 
receive the sacraments of holy Church, and that 
as soon as might be, lest after he should be less 
able for indisposition both of body and mind to 
receive them ; and to prevent also any sudden 
accident that might in this weakness take him 
away, ere he had armed himself with this so 
sudden and necessary defence." The General 
complied, and gave him the wafer and the wine, 
to receive which he would get out of bed. Six 
or seven hours afterwards he was "anneyled," 
and after each anointing devoutly said, Amen. 

The dying man was now looked on with 
superstitious reverence, as no more belonging to 
this lower world, and people came to survey the 
miracle of sanctity. ** Some sent unto the Car 
dinals and great personages ; some entreated the 
Fathers ; some used the help of his servants ; 
and others made other devices, and this not only 
to see him, but to kiss his hands, his head, or 
some other thing about him ; and when therein 
they had satisfied their devotion, they would 
touch his body with their books, their beads, 
handkerchiefs, crosses, medals, and other the 
like things, and that very reverently on their 
knees : and in this kind none were more forward 
than the Cardinals themselves ; who by reason 
of their more frequent conversation did most 
know him, and some of them mentioned his 
canonisation : and when once they knew of his 
133 M 


sickness, they came very often unto him, and ten 
of them sometimes in one day, who all desired 
his blessing, but he constantly refused to give 
it ; and one of them taking him by the hand 
kissed the same, and then touched his eyes and 
head therewith, at which Bellarmine marvelling, 
when the other was gone asked those about him 
what kind of courtesy this was, and how long it 
had been in use among the Cardinals." 

This grew to a revolting excess, when Cardi 
nals demanded his blessing and he begged for 
theirs ; but no one would presume to bless him, 
and they seized his hand and blessed themselves 
with it. Then they congratulated him on his 
prospect of going straight to heaven, and begged 
him, when there, to pray for them. To this he 
answered : " I shall think it no small favour to 
be sure of purgatory, and there to remain a good 
while in the flames that must purge and cleanse 
the spots of my offences, and satisfy the just 
wrath and justice of Almighty God. But when I 
am come home, I will not fail to pray for you all." 
Then came prayers for his relics. Cardinal Farnese 
wrote from Caprarola, to ask for his Breviary, or 
for a pair of beads, when he should have died. 

" The three last days before his death, when 
he was sometimes sleepy, sometimes with his 
eyes closed in prayer and meditation, he neither 
marked who they were that came, nor heeded 
much what they did ; in which time the foresaid 
Cardinals, Bishops, Prelates, and others sent 
many little caps of silk, such as they use to 


wear under their square caps ; and others sent 
white night-caps, which they desired might be 
put on his head as they were ; and with them 
they sent also little crosses of gold and silver, 
reliquaries, prayer-books, and other things to 
touch him, and that in such multitude, as there 
were more than one hundred and fifty red, white, 
and other caps put on and taken from his head 
during this time ; and since his death that num 
ber hath much increased. Many things were 
taken away by such as came to visit him, and 
those also by great personages." The medical 
attendants vied with the most devout in honour 
ing their patient. When applying leeches, in 
hope of reducing inflammation, and restoring 
him from delirium, they used clean white hand 
kerchiefs whereon the creatures might disgorge, 
and carried them away, stained with sacred 
blood, for distribution among their friends. In 
the midst of this tumultuous delusion came a 
great favour from the Pope, a plenary indulg 
ence. This was to frank him into glory. Despite 
the judgment of Almighty God, the Pope under 
took to send him into heaven ; and he, the pride 
of Romish theology, the hammer of heretics, 
then having eternity full in view, ventured to 
confide in that indulgence, and " the better to 
gain it, he said a Confiteor with his divers other 
prayers." Last of all "a great crucifix" ab 
sorbed his attention. They laid it upon his 
lips, and- let it rest upon his shoulders, and so 
135 M 2 


lulled him into the last slumber. In the morn 
ing of September 1/th he died. The body was 
carried to a room in the church of the Jesuits, 
whither the people crowded, and kissed it kneel 
ing. Loty Prelates pushed through the crowd, 
and kissed the fingers that had written so much 
for the Church. Then the Pope s physician 
took the body to embalm it, distributed towels, 
handkerchiefs, and sponges, stained with its 
blood, and took for himself a small piece of bone 
from the hinder part of the skull, as payment 
for the service, esteeming it " a peerless jewel 
and inestimable treasure." This done, the em 
balmed body was exposed in the church, with a 
repetition, on a larger scale, of the same noisy 
and exorbitant veneration. The vestments were 
nearly all stolen piecemeal from the corpse, in 
spite of a strong guard of soldiers ; and two 
Bishops were walking away with his Cardinal s 
hat, when a Jesuit and two guards forced them 
to give it up again. Marvellous tales ran through 
the city, of miracles done by the relics ; and 
says the narrator " the same morning that the 
Cardinal departed this life, his voice was heard 
to speak unto some in the city, (of the number 
I am uncertain,) and to say unto them, Addio, 
adesso me ne vado in paradiso. ( Adieu, I am 
now going into paradise. Which voice, among 
others, was heard by the Duchess of Sforza, a 
very virtuous lady, now living in Rome." 

The reader has now a complete example of a 


Roman death. How Christians are enabled to 
depart in peace ; what kind of testimony they 
bear to the grace of God through faith in the 
Lord Jesus Christ ; and how utterly self is lost 
in sight of the great atonement, in the presence 
of the most high God, and in the apprehension 
of His judgment, we know. But nothing that 
marks the departure of a Christian can be recog 
nised in this case ; and I have transcribed largely 
the very words of a Jesuit who witnessed the 
scene that he relates, in order to avoid the 
possibility of misrepresentation. 


When death tore the Cardinal from their 
bosom, the Jesuits would fain have made good 
the loss by the acquisition of a Saint. Even 
while Bellarmine lay on his death-bed a whisper 
of canonisation ran through the chamber ; and 
the Fathers were not likely to let the idea be 
forgotten. Urban VIII. seemed to render the 
attainment of their object impossible, by certain 
decrees adverse to the frequent creation of saints ; 
and it was also required that an interval of half 
a century should elapse from the death of a 
"servant of God" before the Congregation of 
Rites could proceed judicially to examine evi 
dences of saintship. But the Jesuits were not 
to be thwarted by a Bull, nor was the Pope him 
self to be limited ; and he received their suppli 
cations to authorise an extrajudicial inquiry 
137 M 3 


into the merits of Bellarmine, in Rome, Moute- 
pulciano, Capua, and Naples. The Congregation 
of Rites issued this licence on the loth of Ja 
nuary, 1627, and on the 5th of May, 1629, the 
reports were submitted to the auditors of the 
Rota ; but still the antecedent limitation of 
Urban conflicted with the purpose of the Jesuits, 
who could only hope to compass the point by 
evasion and by patience. 

When a generation had passed away, Alexander 
VII., yielding to a revival of the importunity, 
authorised Cardinal Brancati, in 1655, to renew 
the investigation. Still it advanced but slowly, 
and it was not until 16/4 that the Cardinal- Vicar 
thought it right to confirm the application ; nor 
until yet another year did the Pope, Clement X., 
sanction the confirmation. At length, on the 7th 
of September, 1675, the Congregation, of Sacred 
Rites went into solemn disputation concerning the 
theological and cardinal virtues of Robert Bellar 
mine ; and it is said that they came to a favourable 
decision, the Cardinals, although not very warm 
in the cause, being fortified by the sentences of 
twenty-two Consultors.* But that Congrega 
tion displayed a " pious facility " that appeared 
highly objectionable to some members of the 
College of Cardinals, and when they met again, 

* Charles Albert Card. G. Cavalchini fills a large quarto 
\vith his relation of the cause of the venerable servant of 
God, Card. Bellarmine, presented to Benedict XIV. on the 
Ides of September, 1752, whence I take these dates. 


on September 20th, 16/7, under the presidence 
of Innocent XL, seven Cardinals out of eighteen 
voted against the admission of Bellarmine into 
the Calendar. The Congregation then dispersed, 
leaving the question open, and it was privately 
discussed with exceeding earnestness. 

One of the documents prepared on that occa 
sion is now within reach in the more authentic 
form of manuscript, probably written by the 
hand of its author, the Cardinal Dezio Azzolino, 
who filled some of the highest offices in the 
Court of Rome, and who evidently wrote for the 
eye of the Pope alone. With that document before 
me,* I note the reasons that were then urged 
why our Jesuit should not be made a saint. 

A certain pious facility of making saints with 
out sufficient proof of sanctity has latterly crept 
into this Court of Rome ; and when such matters 
are dispatched in the gross, " people will all say, 
and with reason too, that we not only can be 
deceived, but that we wish to be." In order to 
avoid this imputation, certain precautions have 
been taken, at least during the twenty-three 
years that Azzolino has been a member of the 
Congregation of Rites ; and, according to an 
approved doctrine, the proofs of sanctity should 
be "clearer than meridian light, and leave no 
place for doubt." To maintain the credit and 
authority of the Holy See, both in the Catholic 
Church and out of it, " particularly now that we 
* " Additional MSB." in the British Museum. Num. 8373. 


are under so great disadvantage, everywhere 
losing ground, and especially in exceeding dis 
credit on account of this matter of canonisation," 
through the frauds and negligencies of parties 
concerned, we are bound to advise our Lord to 
impose yet greater strictness. In the present 
case, if seven Cardinals out of eighteen vote 
against the proposal, will there not be a dissi- 
dence in the world corresponding to that of the 
Congregation ? And if so, with how great 
scandal ! It may be very well to decide by 
majorities in Councils, where decisions must be 
had, and where infallibility is certain. But 
here, where certainty depends not on spiritual 
prerogative, but on human proofs, no room 
should be left for doubt : but while even one 
dissents there is room left for doubt. Now to 
come to the merits of the case. 

Did Bellarmine ever do anything surpassing 
human power, showing himself to be a partaker 
of the Divine nature ? Never. The model of 
holiness is Christ ; but heretics use the immoral 
ity of the Clergy and the Cardinals as a weapon 
against us and our doctrine : wherefore our best 
defence lies in canonising those only who re 
semble Christ. If we do not so, men will say 
that instead of being saints we make saints, and 
these modern saints will bring the old ones into 
suspicion. Besides, we must acknowledge that 
it is not necessary to make saints, much less 
such saints as have been made of late. 


It is wearisome to hear many worthy men, 
who have been asked to attest the sanctity of 
Bellarmine, excuse themselves by saying that he 
was a good Cardinal, but no saint. Many wit 
nesses think consider scarcely recollect do 
not know, that the servant of God said did this 
or that they know not that he ever told a lie, 
and so on. No one speaks distinctly, and the 
Cardinals, of all others, speak most vaguely. 
Such a degree of evidence as is now produced 
would not suffice to banish a robber ; much less 
should it suffice to make a saint. And besides 
the irregularity of all the proceedings in this 
cause from first to last, there is an utter want of 
evidence to prove his virtues, and the witnesses 
contradict each other on every important point. 
They say, indeed, that Bellarmine was innocent, 
because he could find no sin to confess when on 
his death-bed ; but we want not a negation of 
sins, but the presence of perceptible virtues. 
When S. Filippo Neri was deputed by Clement 
VIII. to try the spirit of Sister Orsola of Naples, 
whether it was of God, he gave her, unexpect 
edly, a very severe slap in the face. Instead of 
resenting it, the Sister meekly knelt at his feet, 
and prayed him to give her his commands ; and 
therefore he judged that she possessed the good 
spirit in heroic measure. But by what has the 
spirit of Bellarmine been tested ? 

Was his faith heroic? Knowledge, not faith, 
is apparent in his writings, which arc in many 


points unsound, even after the Jesuits have 
mended them from beginning to end ; and every 
one knows that they were placed in the Index 
Expurgatory. He always obeyed his General rather 
than the Pope. He fled from martyrdom, instead 
of wishing for it, as all s;reat saints have ever done. 
Assuredly his faith was anything but heroic. 

\Vashishopeheroic? It could not have been. 
For he confessed that he abstained from prayer, 
through doubt of obtaining what was expedient 
for him. 

Was his charity heroic? No. Defective at 
all points. Heroic charity impoverishes itself 
for the sake of others ; but he merely gave away 
the surplus of his income after providing well 
for himself. "The servant of God," says the 
process, " kept his table a little better than 
when he icas in the Company." And who will 
say that to live a little better than a Jesuit con 
stitutes heroic abstinence ? On the contrary, it 
is proved by calculation from the statements of 
himself and his friends, that he lived as well as 
most Cardinals, and much better than Pope 
Pius V. But he took the choicest dainties, if a 
servant would only say that nothing else was to 
be had ; and so exhibited a scandalous defect, 
not of heroic, but of common, virtue. 

They say that he was humble. But assuredly 

he was anything but humble, or prudent either, 

when, in France, he pretended to prophesy the 

death of Sixtus, after learning from the courier, 



from private letters, or even from the triple seal of 
the heads of orders, that the letter over which he 
jested contained intelligence of that Pope s decease. 
Not very humble when, preaching at Capua, he 
compared himself to St. Gregory the Great. Not 
very humble when he wrote his own life, and 
penned those monstrous eulogies of himself that 
Fuligatto copied. Not very humble when he said 
that his Superior wrote of him to Rome, " Never 
man spake like this man." 

This life of his, first written by himself, and 
then published with additions by Fuligatto, is 
full of scandal, and perilous to the faith. " I 
conceive," says Azzolino, " that it is of the 
utmost importance that Your Holiness should 
provide against the most enormous mischief that 
would result from carrying this matter forward. 
I think it necessary that you should get posses 
sion of his Life, written by the Father-General of 
the Company, and make sure that a single copy 
of it does not remain. Let all the impressions that 
are with the printers be gathered in ; and let all 
the Cardinals and Consultors have an order to give 
up any copies they may have, causing the whole to 
be burnt with the greatest secresy. I humbly im 
plore Your Holiness to press this matter ; for the 
thing is too grave, and the peril too great, to be 
passed over." His works ought all to be sub 
jected to a severe censorship, and dealt with 
according to the propositions they contain ; but 
if you make him a saint, the Apostolic See con- 


firms them all, and adopts that sentence of his 
that hoth Pope and Council may err in questions 
of facts. 

If, by making him a saint, you confirm his 
writings, what will you say to France, when she 
charges you with giving sanction to his prin 
ciples ? And if you thus confirm his writings, 
what will you say to England, where the heretics 
quote his statements in regard to the revision of 
the Vulgate against the Church. It was but the 
other day that a learned Cardinal showed me a 
book that is in his library, intituled, Bellum 
Papale, fyc., written by an English heretic, 
printed in London in 1609, and dedicated to the 
Archbishop of Canterbury. That book points 
out the contradiction between the Clementine and 
the Sixtine Bibles, " which truly is most notable, 
and renders palpable in practice the enormous 
prejudice that would follow, if we should go on 
with the canonisation of Bellarmine." 

These considerations set aside the project for 
that time ; but it was renewed by the Jesuits 
under the reigns of Clement XI. and Benedict 
XIV. Those Popes would gladly have added him 
to the number of the guardians of their Church, 
but it was impossible ; and the very best that could 
be said of him was that sentence of Cardinal 
Albrizio : " A good Cardinal, but no saint. " 








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_ \ - 

A Jesuit Cardinal